By Anglican Family Care | Posted: Wednesday June 3, 2020

Jill Tosswill, from the Central Otago Team, heads off into retirement this month. Vicki McDermott, Team Leader Central Otago/Queenstown Lakes Anglican Family Care – (AFC) sat down over a cuppa and asked her for a few reflections of her time working for AFC.

Jill, tell us about your background and what brought you to the role at AFC.
I was employed by AFC in 1997 (I think) having been made redundant from my role as a Medical Social Worker at Dunstan Hospital. Within a week I was offered a position of five hours a week to cover a worker who was on leave. At this time, I was also working half time as an educator with Parents As First Teachers so the two roles dovetailed rather nicely together. Over the years my hours increased with AFC to eventually become full time.

My background is a really mixed bag. On leaving school I went to Kindergarten Teachers College, worked in a hospital cafeteria as an Assistant Supervisor, served tea on a tourist boat on Lake Manapouri, worked as the Manapouri PowerStation Clerk and went to work by boat, did accounts for a Chemist in Australia and worked for Trans Australia Airlines. I returned to early childhood work teaching at the Roxburgh Playcentre and then ran playgroups for REAP.

My ventures into the world of social services began with an admin role for the Alexandra Task Force during the wind-down of the Clyde Dam project which was followed by roles co-ordinating support for the unemployed of Cromwell, setting up the Central Otago Friendship network and then going to university to gain a social work qualification to support the work I wished to continue to pursue.

How has the role changed and what changes have you seen?I have always appreciated the focus of AFC. To be able to hold families at the centre of the work and be flexible and creative to work in partnership with those families to cement a trusting relationship to achieve the goals they established. Without a doubt over the years the issues facing families has meant they present with more complex needs and this I believe is symptomatic of the increasing pressures they face juggling relationships, financial challenges, living at a distance from their extended families and often the trauma they experienced earlier in their own lives.

I have been privileged to work alongside many Central Otago families and it has always been wonderful to be part of celebrating change created during the journey we have undertaken together. Central Otago has been a great place to work and I have been blessed with some great colleagues, many of whom have enhanced my learnings, helped hone my practise and provided significant light relief at times when the challenges we all face seem all-encompassing.

Jill, the Central Otago/Queenstown Lakes AFC team, your colleagues at Alexandra Community House and the wider Alexandra community will miss your wisdom, knowledge and humour, and style! Thank you from the families you have worked with over your long career with us, and the contribution you have made to your community.