Lucy has been doing volunteer work while caring for her four-year-old son with autism, since December 2019.

When the pandemic started, she thought there must be more to life.

“I wanted something more,” she says.

“I used to be a teacher back at Papua New Guinea. I love working with children and people, it is a passion and vocation for me, so I decided to do something else and more.”

“I was volunteering but I thought I would try and do something different, like study”.

Lucy lives in Cairns where she heard about the Your Caring Way program from a friend.

“I looked it up myself and then I decided to join. It’s a really good program. It helped me a lot with so many things, especially last year.”

“It helped me to keep going when I was feeling bored. I knew they were there for me with so many things on offer.”

“My vocational coach Nick, helped me put everything together and then I started my Certificate IV in Community Services through Carers Queensland’s Registered Training Organisation (RTO).”

She completed her course before Christmas and in January she was offered a new position with the Diocesan Outreach & Mission Services at the Catholic Diocese of Cairns, with whom she had been volunteering for a year.

“I started working as a religious instructor volunteer, teaching religion in state schools here in Cairns.”

“Now I am assisting the Coordinator of State School Religious Instruction in the Northern Deanery of the Diocese of Cairns.”

“We have nearly 30 schools, but at the moment the Catholic Faith is taught in 18 of them.”

“My job is to make sure that our more than 50 volunteers have everything they need to teach their lessons.”

“I assist the Coordinator, take care of all their paperwork, making sure they all have their Blue Cards ready so they can start as soon as they can.”

“I assist the Coordinator to send all the information to the schools and to let them know which volunteers will be coming and the classes that they will be teaching. There is a lot of admin work involved.”

“Then, I go to the schools myself as a volunteer to teach too. Right now, I go to three schools teaching religion instruction.”

Lucy combines her volunteer work with her paid employment. She works Monday to Thursday and has Fridays off.

“I do 12 hours paid job and 5 hours volunteer work every week. I try to break them down into different days.”

Every day she also takes her son to different places during weekdays and weekends.

“I drop him off at Kindy, Early Childhood Development Program or Autism Queensland and I go back to do my volunteer work as well as my job. Then I will pick him up in the afternoon, so every weekday is a busy day for me.”

“Weekends we go to places where he can have fun and socialise with other children and people.”

“My son has improved a lot. The first week of school was hard, I had to go in with him and wait until he will settle down. But it’s getting easier now. I have to dress up every morning so he will know that I have to go to work and that I will drop him off and pick him up in the afternoon.”

“I don’t work on Fridays, but I still get up and dress up in the morning because I have church activities to attend to and also, he knows mummy has to go to church.”

“I am really enjoying it. It really keeps me going, I feel motivated. I have a close group of friends from the church who also support me when I need help.”

“I love working with children and people, I really like it.”

Lucy dreams of living in the country and working in the outback.

“I’d love to help more children and people maybe in remote places. Before I came to Cairns, I was doing volunteer work in an Aboriginal community in the Kimberly region in Western Australia. I loved it.”

“I like being involved in community and that’s why I took up Community Services studies. Hopefully one day I can do that in a community somewhere.”