Mary Bourke is a busy woman. Working in Carer Support and Support Coordination (NDIS) for VMCH, she travels from her home in Euroa to Shepparton and Wangaratta to help others thrive within their communities, despite their personal challenges.
She thoroughly enjoys the work that she does, especially the time she spends with the carers.
“I think the world of them. They are resilient, passionate and honest about their situation. They welcome you into their lives. They tell you their most wonderful and most challenging moments and they trust you with all this, a complete stranger.
“I love this job because it’s about people, it’s about reality and we are able to build rapport and do something that makes a difference.”
When Mary isn’t working with carers, or NDIS support services, Mary wears a third hat, which is again focused on working with people. In her spare time, she supports a number of young people through Berry Street and has been a respite carer for over 15 years.
“I don’t have kids, so I trust them with keeping me informed! What can I say, who doesn’t love kids? They stay for a weekend, sometimes a week, it depends on their needs at the time. I feel like I am giving back for the wonderful childhood I had.
“Kids are honest, fun and annoying at times. But they keep you honest.”
Mary keeps herself, and her young companions very busy. She often takes them to the library, swimming, and plays games with them, “like UNO, but I always lose…”
“We watch DVDs, visit playgrounds, the stuff that average families do. I like to tire the kids out, so they sleep after a good night story!”
Mary says the kids like coming back, because of her whippet Maggie, a rescue dog. She thinks that the kids can relate to her, as a nervous, but gentle dog.
If that wasn’t enough, Mary also started, and continues to work for, the Rural Australians for Refugees (RAR) group in Euroa. Together with another woman, they started the group about five years ago.
“Life is very tough for some and we are a very wealthy country,” she says. “We need to exercise compassion. It could be us one day running from something. I just don’t understand our stance on those less fortunate than us.”
So why does Mary do all that she does, and why others give our time, effort and care, for the others?
“It’s fun. It feels good and brings rewards that you can’t buy. You learn heaps about yourself as well, that’s if you’re brave enough to hear those lessons!”