A life of meaning
Dimitra – or Dimi, as everyone knows her – first joined The Benevolent Society 11 years ago as a university student. As part of her Bachelor of Social Work, she completed a placement in our Fostering Young Lives program. Since then, she has worked in various roles, including Child, Youth and Family Practitioner, Senior Practitioner, and Team Leader, in both the early intervention and out-of-home care programs.
“I always knew I wanted to do something meaningful,” Dimi says. “My personal experiences meant I had a lot of compassion and understanding for struggling families.”
Dimi’s career has gone from strength to strength ever since. Today, she’s the Manager of our Child, Youth and Family Services (South Western Sydney) and Functional Family Therapy - Child Welfare (South East/Central Sydney).
“I feel as though I’ve found my calling,” Dimi says. “I love what I do.”
Shaped by a challenging childhood and adolescence, Dimi brings a depth of insight, concern, and empathy to her role. By supporting her Team Leaders, Dimi enables our Child, Youth and Family Practitioners to deliver intervention programs for families in critical situations.
“I can relate to a lot of the high-risk challenges our clients face,” Dimi says. “In my family, education as a female wasn’t held in high regard, and having a voice was non-existent. I learned a lot about equality, respect, and advocating for justice, and grew from my experiences. I made decisions that have led me to where I am today, but I know my life could have turned out so differently. We all need someone to give us that glimmer of hope and belief, to help us see our worth. And that’s what I want to give to our families. I want to give them hope that they can make the changes needed to keep their children safe.”
Supporting families through sustainable change
Each day presents new challenges for Dimi and her teams. But with resilience, courage, and tenacity, they rise to each one.
“Many of the families referred to us have come to the attention of Child Protection Services,” Dimi says. “They may be experiencing family violence, drug and alcohol abuse, chronic mental health issues, and complex trauma that’s often intergenerational. We want to prevent the children in those families from entering the out-of-home care system and stop the cycle from continuing.”
Dimi and her teams cover a wide, multiculturally diverse area in Sydney. Many of the families they support speak English as a second language, and some have migrated from war-torn countries. They’ve often had difficulty accessing non-judgmental education on parenting practices in Australia, health care, employment, and housing. With tailored, culturally sensitive support, Dimi and her Practitioners help these families find a positive way forward.
But change doesn’t happen overnight - at least, not the lasting, meaningful change families need. As Dimi reflects, sustainable change requires time, patience, and recognition of the small yet powerful shifts throughout intervention.
“I often remind my teams not to look for grandiose, revolutionary changes in families. That’s not what we can realistically expect. We want to create small, everyday changes that can be maintained over a long period. Even if we can plant a seed so a family can at least see a different future is possible, to me, that’s progress.”
A journey of continuous growth
To thrive in a role in Child, Youth and Family Services, Dimi says you must be able to reflect, critique, and continually improve your practice. Strong interpersonal skills are also vital for organic, empathetic conversations with families.
“The most important thing is to have the inherent belief that a positive outcome can be achieved, even for families in the most difficult situations. You have to truly believe there is hope, and you need to show families that hope.”
A few years ago, before she started her current role, Dimi left The Benevolent Society to work for another organisation in a similar position. But after six months, she returned when she realised her values truly aligned with The Benevolent Society.
“I feel it was an important journey, leaving the organisation and coming back. During those six months, I learnt just how great the supportive culture at The Benevolent Society was, and I feel grateful to have had so much opportunity to grow in this role, as well as the ones I’ve had in the past. I’ve never looked back. It’s such a huge organisation with a lot of different programs. If you’re open to expanding your skillset and knowledge, the opportunity is there if you’re willing to take it. I love my role and my job, and I want to continue embedding the management skills and knowledge I’ve gained to influence future practitioners and leaders.”