Laura's 33 years of Love and Listening

Laura’s 33 years of Love and Listening

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For over 100 years Tweddle has cared for the most vulnerable of families.  In the early years, Tweddle was a training centre for Mothercraft Nurses and a respite centre for sick and foundling babies.

There are few staff who have been around long enough to witness Tweddle’s journey through the significant changes in infant mental health, child welfare and evidence-based advances in clinical practice and parenting support.  One of those staff members is Early Parenting Practitioner Laura Kelly.

Laura arrived from Ireland as a young nurse in January 1988 on a casual working holiday with her boyfriend. Shortly afterwards Laura found herself working at Tweddle as a mothercraft nurse.

33 years from the time Laura arrived at Tweddle, and now with her own family of five children, we are honoured to say that Laura is still with us.  In the three decades since her commencement at Tweddle, she has worked across various roles in the organisation including as a mothercraft nurse, counselor, team leader, and intake, triage and referral worker.

Such a sensitive role is not suited to everyone.  Mums and dads assessed for our residential, day stay, in-home support or group programs are asked over 80 questions on topics that can open up great pain and distress.  Important areas impacting the safety and security of a baby and their family are addressed in these questions, such as family violence, drug or alcohol problems, symptoms of depression, stress and anxiety, sexual abuse, disability or reports to child protection.

In addition to representing Tweddle on the frontline, Laura is available to work across the various programs and makes sure parents feel listened to, understood and welcomed.

Laura plays important community and family roles within the Irish community, her church community and large family and friendship groups. Tweddle staff and the dozens of families she reaches out to every week know that they have met someone special. Laura, who is incredibly humble, says that there are a few things that drive her passion   “The privilege of respecting a family’s dignity, despite their hardships and disadvantage, the joy in seeing the positive change that happens to each family and the importance of listening and treating each family like they are the most important family in the world”.

We spoke to Laura about her time at Tweddle and dedication to her work.
Tell us about how you started at Tweddle and where your career began.

“For over the thirty years at Tweddle I have worked in various roles but currently I’m in Admission and Intake where my role is in the assessment and triaging of clients seeking support from Tweddle and helping to maintain targets for our programs. We work in collaboration with referring agencies like GPs, community services and health workers, and our multidisciplinary team ensure complex care needs are effectively identified and prioritised.

My career began with training at St Patrick’s Children’s Hospital in Dublin as a mothercraft nurse equivalent and my first job in Australia was in a Turkish day care/Kindergarten.

What does it mean to you to work at Tweddle?

Working at Tweddle doesn’t feel like working as I enjoy what I do, especially working alongside families and being part of their journey at their most vulnerable time. I enjoy working with parents of different cultures, listening to their struggles and challenges and helping them adjust to their new lives as parents.

What are you passionate about when it comes to your work and what advice you are asked for most?

I work with an amazing team and colleagues. Tweddle has a real sense of family. I am grateful to have been a member of staff in this wonderful Early Parenting Centre and to share in the lives of so many families.

I am very passionate about providing parents the support they need during their major life transition to parenthood. It is a privilege to be a part of someone’s personal journey and incredibly rewarding to witness the changes that families can make to their lives with support and guidance. Listening to their stories is inspirational. I am passionate about providing parents with evidence-based advice, so that they can feel confident and informed about making safe and healthy choices on their own path to parenthood. Making small changes can have such a big impact on parents’ lives.

What advice are you most asked for?

I am often asked for the following advice.

“When will my baby sleep longer than 20 minutes, and when will my baby sleep through the night? At this stage I will talk about sleep cycles. I am also asked “Why is my baby so unsettled? We can talk about reflux and other challenges that can lead to a baby being unsettled.

Lots of mums say, “I did not expect having a baby to be so hard, challenging and demanding. I expected this time to be a happy one but I am struggling.” Coming to Tweddle is an important step in talking with non-judgmental, caring staff who can help parents on the path to enjoying parenting and developing strong, attachment relationships.

One parent recently said “Tweddle’s philosophies and responsive settling strategies informed by Circle Of Security are fundamental to my beliefs.

“Time flies in the job, of course I have challenging days, but they are always rewarding.  Every time the phone rings, there is another life story unfolding. What might appear as a mum ringing because her baby won’t sleep, can become much more complicated when you peel back the layers and have time to listen and understand with empathy. I look back at my time at Tweddle and marvel at the many changes and improvements that have happened not only at Tweddle, but in infant research. It doesn’t feel like work when you’re dedicated to helping people.”

Laura Kelly, Tweddle EPP

Laura Kelly at Tweddle

Laura Kelly at Tweddle

 

Laura Kelly at Tweddle
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