The Domino Effect: How Linda McDonald is Raising a Community Through Social Work


A fulfilling change in direction

Linda places high value on continual learning and development. She has a Diploma of Community Services, Diploma of Counselling, and a Bachelor of Teaching (Primary). Currently, Linda is completing a Diploma of Alcohol and Other Drugs to grow her counselling skills. Although Linda has taken her career in a couple of different directions over the years, Catholic Care has enabled her to keep making a positive impact on people’s lives.

“I always wanted to be a teacher,” Linda says. “This, however, was not my path, and I was steered into another area. I’m proud to say I have embraced change and overcome adversity, and have a wonderful, rewarding position with Catholic Care coordinating (HIPPY) home interaction program parents and youngsters which is home support for parents to in-turn support their children with their education.”

Strengthening families and futures

Linda is dedicated to helping parents empower their children to recognise and develop a love of learning and reading. Linda and her team runs a 30-week home-based educational enrichment program that delivers activity books to families with children under four years of age. Families complete 45 books throughout the two year program, which enables parents to bond through education with their children, build self-esteem, strengthen relationships, and assist their children in succeeding at school. Activities focus on reading, math’s, science, motor and language skills this increase children’s cognitive, creative, social, and emotional development.

The HIPPY program also gives parents confidence as their child’s first teacher. Tutors role-play activities with parents, educating them about childhood development, helping them to discover their children’s learning style, and encouraging them to identify learning opportunities in everyday situations.

As well as supporting her clients, Linda is passionate about helping her team of tutors succeed.

Linda says “Every year, I employ two new tutors from the families who have graduated from the program. This is usually the only employment our Aboriginal and refugee tutors have had. The program gives tutors two years of employment, during which time they are offered TAFE or university courses so that they may find other employment. During my time as HIPPY program coordinator, tutors have often called me after they have finished our program to let me know how they are going in the workplace. It feels wonderful to see them succeed.”

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Linda’s passion for establishing an environment that allows her staff to thrive is second to none.

“As a coordinator, I am responsible for nurturing and supporting the tutors, so they may succeed after their two years delivering the program. I let the tutors know that when they start a new position, they should look for someone to support and believe in them, and to report any bullying or harassment.” If they ever experience it within any employment.

Linda is also an Aboriginal Family Case Worker, often serving as our clients’ first point of contact.

“When people come into the Aboriginal Catholic Care centre, I’m there to assist and direct people to services they might need. Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients feel at home here; it’s a safe place where they can be themselves. At any time, I could be helping them access services and support. We look after their emotional well-being and empower them to be in charge of their own person.” I like to empower people to make their own choices.

Trish, an Aboriginal Family Worker at Catholic Care, deeply values Linda’s caring leadership style.

“Linda is extremely passionate and determined. She will bend over backwards to support her staff and clients. I’ve loved her since I met her. She’s there for us – whether it be the home education program or family support, Linda works hard. We’re lucky to have her.”

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