Faces of Baptcare | Meet Alicia Johnston

Tell us a bit about your role and what you do day to day at Baptcare

I’m a Practice and Development Consultant (PDC) in the Tasmanian Family Services team.

My role is a part of the senior leadership team made up of 11 standard members and sometimes senior practitioners will come along too.  The PDC role looks to embed best practice around trauma-informed support for children, young people and families through continuous improvement and education, practice reflection and complex case consultation.

I like that I get to work in a real team. It’s a great collective of people who work together to see what they need to do as a leadership team to support each other and the staff.

There’s lots of value in the group in terms of different experiences as the members come from different areas and even different states, so there’s a real breadth of experience.

The team vibe is really strong.

In terms of a standard day, I probably spend about 30% of my day in meetings, a percentage in learning and development working on current best practices and/or developing workshops on such topics as care planning, and spending time reviewing files to support staff with complex families through practice reflection.

What was your career background?

My background is psychology, but I sort of fell into child safety/human services after moving to Broome, Western Australia where I was working in hospitality, and finishing my degree.

I worked in child safety and family violence in Broome, where I lived for eight years. But I was born in Tasmania and moved back to Tasmania (where I worked in child safety) to be closer to family when my daughter was two years old.

I worked in the Baptcare office as a community-based team leader for five years before moving to a job in clinical practice as a Practice Manager at Child Safety Service Tas Govt. I also worked as a Practice Manager at the youth detention centre.

What do you like about your job?

I like being able to look at the situation for families in a different light and to consider things with a trauma informed lens.

What do you like about Baptcare?

I like the feel at Baptcare.

Part of my role is supporting practitioners and this can be creative. I get to work with some knowledgeable practitioners who are genuinely dedicated to the families they work with and I find this inspiring.

It’s a give and take space that is welcoming and familial.

I also really like the smaller office space because it’s neighbourly and you can get to know most people.

Baptcare has a culture of maintaining their values and working towards them.

It’s an honest place and it’s a safe place to learn and fail where people are willing to take a considered risk which often comes up with a positive outcome. I appreciate this ‘it’s safe to fail’ environment.

Your work must get intense at times. How do you decompress?

I think I have a natural resilience because I had a supportive upbringing where I could develop this strength without even realising it. When I started in the area, I had great mentors to explain why we do what we do. This helped me being able to come up with my own strategies that work for me. If I get really stressed, I play a Pixar movie in my head and that helps to stop me looping and gets me to sleep!

Any other tips for dealing with the intensities of work in the caring space?

I think it’s important to accept that things can affect you more than you thought and honouring that.

It also helps to have trusted people around you.

If I have a bad day, I’ll just give my hubby a hug and he knows it has been a tough day.

It’s important to recognise that what we do is tough and that it’s ok not to be ok.

Self-care is so important because if you’re not ok you can’t help others to be ok.

What did you want to be when you were a child?

I wanted to be a doctor but I’m not sure exactly why. Perhaps because I liked helping people and I saw doctors as helping people. I was pretty serious about this dream at one stage. I even sat my Medical School Admissions Test (MSAT).

Can you tell us two surprising things about yourself?

  1. I went tandem bungee jumping with my husband at Kuta beach in Bail in Kuta. It was so exciting!
  2. Party trick – I can do the splits because my daughter is a dancer and was having trouble doing splits, so we had a bet. Whoever did them first would get either coffee and a massage for me, or my daughter would get $20 into her bank account – I won!

Ed – an added fun fact about Alicia is that she plays football. Apart from a recent injury, Alicia is a huge fan of her new sport.

Tell us about your football ‘career’

I play football for St Patrick's Old Collegians in the NTFAW (Northern Tasmanian Football Association Women) Division 1. It is the first year I have played, and the first year St Pats has had a women's team in the competition.

I just decided I wanted to give it a try and had a friend playing who encouraged me to come along. I absolutely love it, learning to play, the positive team and club culture, and socialising with new people. The collar bone isn't ideal, but it means I can focus on coaching my netball team (instead of being a coach/player) and I look forward to getting back to training and rebuilding my strength.

Ideal weekend

I’d spend time with family. I really like the warmth and water/beaches, so I’d go somewhere tropical where I could have the kids entertained for a bit.

I love the East coast – Binalong Bay/Scamander, gorgeous seafood.

What’s your life motto?

I do believe in the idea of karma – if you do good things they’ll come back to you. I really believe that it’s important to do the right thing and the kind thing because you never know what’s going on in someone’s world and how your actions can impact them that day.

You can learn more about Baptcare’s work in Tasmania’s Family Services space on our website.