Family, community and faith

Building my skills
October 24, 2019
Refugee to fashion designer
October 24, 2019

 Family, community and faith 


I am of Russian background. My parents migrated to Australia in 1949. I was born in Australia and am one of 11 siblings. My father suffered Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and over some time I have learned to cope with ‘battles in my head’. Two other siblings have also had mental health challenges.

My special interests include music, especially the mandolin and guitar and enjoy playing as part of a group. I also paint.

My family, my community and my faith

Though my parents recently passed away, my family has been a major support for me throughout my life. Our family is a strong faith-based unit. It is a very close, loving and beautiful family. I have always felt safe within my family.

My sister who is 18 months older than me is a great support. We share everything and pray together. The other person who provided me with strength was my mother. Sometimes I would ring her to talk about a problem I was having and she would say, ‘let’s pray’ … and it would help me move on.

Turning to God, having a strong faith, singing and praying are very important to me.

Through my family, faith, music and church community I have also experienced strong spiritual connections bringing all these together in a strengthening, supportive way.

Understanding my problem

Previously I worked at Royal Melbourne Hospital as Manager of the Orthopaedic ward.  Following a miscarriage, I had some time off work and then was diagnosed with depression. I was on antidepressants for about two years.

One day I was having a discussion with a Pastor in the church and was surprised that she too had had to cope with depression. She recommended counseling with Pathways at Baptist care and talked about a program that trains you to rewire your brain, linked to the concept of neuroplasticity and the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections.

The Pathways program worked for me. I still practise what the counselor taught me at that time and apart from what it has done to help me personally, I then trained professionally as a social worker and recently completed the training in re-wiring for depression helping individuals where I can in my practice.

 Applying a strength’s based approach

I was employed by the Red Cross for many years and would often often refer new arrivals to Ishar.  Then I came to Ishar as a final year placement as part of the Social Work course from UWA.

I am now a staff member of Ishar and have witnessed clients who have moved away from cultural connections due to oppressive practices and turn to not-for-profit organisations like Ishar for support.

Many clients face social isolation in Australia and rely on support groups. It is important to adopt a strengths-based approach and help develop their skills and channel their interests to build a new life.