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Our Winner’s Speech

Our Winner’s Speech

Our Winner’s Speech

What a great honour. Thank you. To the other finalists – congratulations on your nominations and well done for your commitment to social work. I would like to acknowledge the Wadjuk Noongar people on whose land we meet on today. To elders in the room, please accept my respectful acknowledgement and to those who have gone before, I also pay my respects.
My apprenticeship for Social Work was driving taxis for three years. I learnt how to counsel, be calm in a crisis, be patient, empathic with a wide range of people and most of all I was able to hone my use of initiative. I also had plenty of time to think and to meet people who were socially isolated, addicted to various substances, suffering hurt, discrimination and very difficult personal circumstances.  A transition to Social Work seemed only natural.
Since the first day I walked into the Social Work Department at UWA and Judy in reception greeted me by name and welcomed me to the university I have felt nothing but at home in Social Work. I have found something that I am good at that fits with me and that enables me to do good.
Each day I am enthusiastic and energetic about my job. I have learnt the importance of taking care of myself to ensure that I am able to continue to take care of others.
I remember one of the lecturers at university saying that ‘Social Work is more than a job, it will influence your whole life’. This has certainly become true for me- I do leave work at work as much as possible, but the values and philosophies of social justice and making a positive difference in the world run through every part of my life. I would like to thank:
    • – Organising Committee and Sponsors of SWOTY – this event is one of the highlights of the Social Work calendar.
    • – WA staff for the Social Work Education.
    • – Tatenda Muchandibaya and others at Wanslea for the nomination.
    • – The dream team at Wanslea who fill me with pride and inspiration every day.
    • – Tricia Murray my boss for the last 15 years – for sticking by me and giving me the autonomy to be the creative professional I always wanted to be.
    • – Francis Lynch – my first placement supervisor and John Berger, my Coordinator and Mentor for a significant part of my Social Work journey.
    • – Dr Brenda Clare – for eight years of support and guidance during my PhD journey.
    • – My whole family- particularly my sister Sabena who was my inspiration to study Social Work, my parents Tom and Lore who are unendingly supportive, my beautiful, honest wife Michelle who reminds me of what is important and my wonderful daughters Tilly and Starley- when I look at you both I remember what the most important job for me is – to be the best father I can be.
  I would like to express what Social Work means to me in a song now. I would like you all to stand up and hold hands with the person next to you. Please sing along- this is a Pete Seeger song, We Shall Overcome – if you don’t know it don’t worry, you’ll soon get the hang of it. Let’s try and lift the roof off this auditorium!