Celebrating Mothers in the Month of May- Penny Hill and Steph

Q & A with IAHA Full Members, Mother and Daughter – Penny and Steph

Where are you from?

Born in Darwin to a large local family (Cubillo’s). A Larrakia woman on my father’s side and Wadijan on my mother’s side. I am the youngest child from a family of seven and from a family who loves to play sports. I have lived in Darwin all my life, went to school up here and furthered my career in doing a degree in social work. I had the opportunity to study at Deakin University in Geelong, Victoria.  

What motivated you to become a Social Worker?

I saw a lot of vulnerable people in the community that needed some guidance and someone to advocate for them, especially our people. These people were socially disadvantaged, I felt the urge to improve their quality of life, address social justice issues, reduce barriers, to improve their wellbeing. Raising awareness and empowering them to achieve the best possible outcomes available to them.      

How has IAHA supported you through this journey?

IAHA is like my second family, they have so much to offer.  I joined in 2012 attending my first conference in Brisbane and never looked back.  IAHA offers support and assistance to students and Allied Health Professionals. They have a variety of programs and workshops on offer and promote careers in Allied Health.  IAHA is committed to improving health and wellbeing of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander peoples.  I love attending their conferences, they always have so much to offer including International guest speaker and other inspiring speakers, workshops and a variety of sessions to attend.  The gala dinner and entertainment provided is always a hit.  I can’t forget to mention the lovely board members/staff and general members, a great bunch of people.

What were some of the challenges you faced while studying and in your career as a graduate?

It was a very hard and challenging time for me studying, trying to juggle a full time job, raising my teenage daughter and caring for my frail aged mother. Not to mention working on the afterhours roster, which included weekend work. I was very lucky to have a supportive husband. It was always difficult trying to arrange care for my mother so I could go to Deakin University in Geelong, Victoria, in the end most of the time my husband had to care for my mother and the boys while I was away. Working as a graduate in my career as a counsellor in ‘sexual assault’, had its moments.  A very challenging line of work at times I felt like I was working in two worlds.  I experienced lots of heart aches and lots of racism.  My present job at the hospital can be challenging as well.  I get much satisfaction knowing I’ve helped my patients/families in achieving their goals.     

What drives you in your role and your achievements in the field?

I am determine to assist many vulnerable families to fight for their rights to achieve a better lifestyle. Health care is a major issue with a lot of families and not knowing what resources are available to them or their rights and entitlements. Advocating on their behalf, fighting the system and getting results makes my day. My achievements is knowing that I had a win for my patients and that the family is happy and getting the care they need.

What does it mean to you to be supported by your daughter and how do you work together in your careers?

My daughter and I are very close, she is not only my daughter but my very close friend. We have been very close since her growing up and always been there for each other. We both have the same careers ‘social workers’ but work in different hospitals. Working together is a blessing although not side by side, but we can reflect on our practices share our views, experiences and support each other. 

What inspires you most about your daughter?

My daughter is very quick in learning new roles, she is able to handle difficult situations with a very calm and soothing manner. She goes about her business in a professional way and always ensures the patient is well looked after. She is a very loving and caring person, who adores her son and husband, she always has time for her nephews and nieces and the rest of the family.

What does the future look like for you?

I haven’t really given this question much thought I will continue my journey helping others until that day comes and the mind can’t think anymore. I would like to see more of our people in jobs where they can assist our people and have a voice. Then I’ll retire and sit back and enjoy my grandchildren. 


Q & A with IAHA Member Steph Pavy

Tell us a bit about your background and where you are from? 

I was born in Darwin and come from a large Darwin family. My maternal grandfather was a Larrakia man and my maternal grandmother was a Wadijan woman, both from the Northern Territory. My father’s side of the family are farmers from rural South Australia.  

I completed my schooling in Darwin before commencing my Bachelor of Social Work in Victoria; I also spent 2 years working within the Disability sector in Perth before coming home to Darwin.

What motivated you to become a Social Worker?

I was initially motivated by my mother to become a Social Worker.  I spent some time with her in Geelong while she was studying at university. During this time, I had the opportunity to attend some of her classes and had the privilege of spending time with her lecturers who further sparked my interest in Social Work.

Share a bit about your experiences with IAHA?

I recently joined IAHA last year, as my mum always spoke highly of the yearly conferences and attended my first IAHA conference last year in Darwin. I enjoyed the experience of listening to a variety of speakers from a range of disciplines. It is a great way to connect and network with other allied health professionals in Darwin and across Australia.  

What were the struggles you faced while studying and also in your career as a graduate?

I commenced my university studies after leaving high school so I was very young and struggled to balance my time between full-time study, full-time work, family and friends. I was lucky enough to be accepted into the NT Department of Health’s Indigenous Cadetship program, where I was provided with a mentor and support throughout my studies and my first couple of years as a new graduate.

The biggest struggle of being a new graduate was learning to be confident in my knowledge and myself.

Tell us about what drives you in your role and your achievements in the field.

I am currently working as an Acute Social Worker within the hospital and work in the emergency department and on the medical ward. I work with the most vulnerable people in our society and have the privilege to listen to their stories and assist them to make positive changes within their lives. Social Work can be very challenging and heart breaking at times but it is also a rewarding and fulfilling profession.

What does it mean to you to be supported by your mum and how do you work together in your careers?

I feel very grateful to have my mother support me throughout my studies and career development. We both work within in the hospital setting but in different areas, we are very lucky to be able to share our knowledge and experiences with each other to further develop and enhance our knowledge within our professions.  

What inspires you most about your mum? 

My mum is the most amazing mother and grandmother. She’s selfless, has such a kind heart and would do anything for her children and grandchildren.

What does the future look like for you? What are your goals and what would you like to achieve?

I enjoy working within the health sector and see myself continuing to work within this area, either in the hospital setting or in the community. In the future, I would like to complete further studies and would like to work with victims of domestic and family violence in the community setting, as this is unfortunately the main presenting issue that social workers provide support to patients within the emergency department. 


May 12, 2020


Posted by: Charlie