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Career Journeys: Tina Helm is advocating for positive change for women and girls

People find amazing jobs on EthicalJobs.com.au every day. This is part of a series of articles that go behind the scenes to meet some of the people and organisations finding each other through EthicalJobs.com.au. 

Today’s story is from Tina Helm, who found her role as Communications Lead at Women’s Health Loddon Mallee on EthicalJobs.com.au.

Women’s Health Loddon Mallee works with communities, service providers and Local Governments to promote and enhance the health and wellbeing of women across the Loddon Mallee Region.

Starting out with work

My first job, when I was 15, was working in an ice cream parlour at ‘Rainbow’s End’ – a fun park in Auckland, Aotearoa.  It was pretty fun, and I was allowed to eat all the ice cream I wanted!

I studied a few things after school. All of my tertiary education helped to shape my career so far, in different ways. 

I started out by getting a Diploma in Acting in Theatre, Film and TV. I then completed a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in English Literature and Political Science.

The Diploma in Acting set me up for public speaking, training and workshop delivery – which are really useful skills in health promotion and community development roles. Through this study we also learned important skills around initiating and planning projects, fundraising and promotion – skills that I have been able to build on and utilise many times over the various twists and turns of my career.

With the Degree majoring in Politics I was able to learn more about what was happening on a global and regional scale and I aligned myself politically with social justice movements, community development and aid work.

English Literature, and the Bachelor of Arts in general, gave me a solid grounding in research and writing in a formal setting. This has been useful in all my roles – writing grant applications, developing website and social media content, formulating educational resources and more.

In terms of my career, I’ve literally done a little bit of everything! I worked in a youth development and leadership position in South Auckland early on in my career. I’ve also worked in refugee resettlement, mental health promotion, suicide prevention and now in gender equality. I’ve also managed a radio station, managed an artist’s market and managed my own venue and bed and breakfast business!  

Working at Women’s Health Loddon Mallee

Women’s Health Loddon Mallee (WHLM) is a not for profit (but For Purpose!) independent, regional service for women invested in advocating for positive change for women and girls and preventing disadvantage, discrimination, and violence against women across the region.

Underpinning our work with an intersectional feminist lens, WHLM are committed to challenging gender stereotypes and working toward more equitable communities for all.

I am currently the Communications Lead at WHLM. Each day looks a little different, depending on what the current priorities are. At the moment I’m working on the development of our Annual Report, working on a project to encourage women in our region to be vaccinated against COVID-19, and developing our 16 days of Activism campaign. I also spend a fair amount of time writing and scheduling content for our social media channels. And my next big project is a website content and design review.

I am just closing up a project I have been working on, gathering stories about women’s experiences of living through the COVID-19 pandemic. One part of the project was the creation of 5 interview-based documentaries with women about how they have been able to take care of their wellbeing through the pandemic.  

Each documentary tells a unique and compelling story of how 8 women in the Loddon Mallee region have been impacted by the pandemic, and the changes in their lives that have been prompted as a result. The women all live vastly different lives, each residing in various parts of the region, and each with their own unique ways of coping through the uncertainties and changes they have experienced since the onset of the pandemic.

Despite their differences, the subjects shared one commonality. They all express their gratitude for something in their lives. They all felt lucky to be in the position that they are in, whether it be due to family or other connections, an abundance of open air where they lived or their ability to be able to contribute positively to their communities.

The films are really heart-warming and thought provoking and a good watch (in my opinion!). You can check them out on our YouTube channel.

Working for a better world

I first came across EthicalJobs.com.au after I was ready to get back into employment after having my baby about 7 years ago.I actively sought out a site like this, because in NZ I had used a similar platform called ‘Do Good Jobs’. 

I was looking for a role that was contributing positively to our communities.  I live in Regional Victoria so there are a lot less job opportunities here than in Melbourne or other big centres. EthicalJobs.com.au has been my go-to when I’ve looked for work, as well as when I’ve been involved in seeking staff. I recommend this site to anyone looking for work.

I was really interested in pursuing a career path focused on communications and marketing after some time to reflect on my career in the first few months of the pandemic in 2020. I had been working in promotion, fundraising and events management for a few arts-based in Castlemaine for a few years, however, I’d lost that work due to the pandemic. 

Although I had loads of experienced in comms and marketing, it was never the main focus of my role, nor the focus of my studies, so I really didn’t know if I had much of a chance unless I went back to uni.  

I knew I wanted to continue to pursue a career in creativity and I also had a passion for social justice and positive social change. I felt as though working in comms for an organisation working toward gender equity would be the perfect opportunity to blend my experience, my passion and my creativity. 

It was only a part-time position at the time, and I knew I needed full time to be able to support myself and my daughter. But I took the chance because I had heard that WHLM was a brilliant organisation.  I’m so thrilled that I did. I juggled this and another part time role on a 6-month contract. I was then offered a full-time permanent role with WHLM and I simply couldn’t be happier! They are a wonderful organisation to work for, and I’m so thrilled to be part of this wonderful and supportive team. An additional bonus for me personally is that WHLM are super supportive of parents and family arrangements with flexible working arrangements (even pre-COVID!), and have also just instigated Pandemic Leave on top of other leave arrangements, for staff needing to dedicate time to caring for loved ones who may be sick or who need one on one time for remote learning. 

I was interested in social justice from an early age. I grew up in a suburb in South Auckland, which is well known as one of the roughest areas of Aotearoa, with a lot of social issues, including poverty, crime, gangs, domestic violence, homelessness, obesity and diabetes, and harm caused by alcohol, drugs and gambling. 

Growing up in this setting, and growing up with disadvantage in general, instilled in me from my early days a thirst for figuring out why these divides between the rich and poor existed, and what could be done to prevent these layers of disadvantage. My childhood set me on the path of wanting to right the things I saw as unjust.  

My advice to other ethical jobseekers is to not give up, and to feel confident to push boundaries in terms of what kinds of work you are applying for, even if you don’t have direct experience in that field. You never know when you and an employer might match.  

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