Tracey is a vibrant mum who has lived a remarkable journey to become a CVGT Employment ParentsNext Transition Support Coach, inspiring other parents to conquer hurdles and pursue meaningful employment opportunities.
“[Being a single mum] was a tough time on so many levels,” Tracey says.
“My son Chris was five years old when his dad and I separated. I had to find a new house and look for work to support my son.
“Back then, there was no support for single parents. No programs like ParentsNext existed.”
Through her own lived experiences, Tracey understands the importance of support and guidance when raising children.
I had to create my own path; it was all on me. Times were tough and money was tight – very tight but I tried my hardest to make sure Chris was happy, safe and secure. After all, our kids are our priority.
CVGT Employment Transition Support Coach
Getting back to work after taking time off to raise children
Doing it on her own, Tracey moved back to Melbourne to be closer to family, found a place to rent and started working.
Like so many parents returning to work, she faced the challenges of finding care for Chris.
“I enrolled Chris into before and after school care. At first, I was worried about leaving him there, however after seeing how much Chris enjoyed it and how well he was looked after, I felt relieved. I could go to work now knowing he will be okay.”
Overcoming health problems
Tracey’s life was back on track when a health diagnosis turned everything upside down.
“We had only been in Melbourne for about 12 months when I was diagnosed with a rare brain tumour. I had to have a craniotomy, a surgery where part of my skull was removed to remove the tumour.
“My skull was then put back in place, with bolts and a plate. I ended up with 52 staples to put my face back together.”
Tracey battles breast cancer and wins
“Ten years after my craniotomy, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. One thing I knew during both crappy times was that I needed to make sure Chris was okay and no matter the outcome for both situations that he was going to be okay.
“He was my main priority and concern. He had to be safe, secure and protected.”
After five months of chemotherapy, six and a half weeks of daily radiation therapy and two surgeries, I am happy to say I am finally cancer free!
Understanding children are a parent’s priority
“I will always look out for my son, after all he is my priority, he is my son and I raised him on my own.
“Chris was only seven when I had my brain tumour and 17 when I had breast cancer. He has endured a lot. I am proud to say that he has a beautiful life now as an adult.”
Tracey’s lived experience makes her the perfect fit to help and support ParentsNext participants
Tracey helps ParentsNext participant Bronwen get connected to her dream job.
“I started working for CVGT Employment in September 2021, after I was made redundant in my previous job,” Tracey says of starting work as a ParentsNext Transition Support Coach.
Having walked the path of uncertainty herself, Tracey understands the unique hurdles that parents returning to work face.
I can relate. I often tell my participants I’ve been exactly where they are today.
“When recruiting for ParentsNext support coaches we value applicants with lived experience like Tracey. Her incredible journey is awe-inspiring to a lot of our participants. If she can do it, so can they,” Kathryn, CVGT Employment ParentsNext Manager says.
What is the ParentsNext program and why should I join?
The ParentsNext program supports parents and carers who receive a Parenting Payment to explore their passions and new career opportunities by the time their youngest child starts school.
“The program is voluntary, and it is a great space for parents to get connected and access support,” Kathryn says.
The program can offer parents who are currently full-time carers for their children a soft landing back into the workforce.
“Participants can explore study options, update their resume, practice interview skills, meet other parents and make valuable in-roads towards a positive future work- life balance.”
I love that I get to offer my participants what I never had. The ParentsNext program is too good not to be used to its full extent.
CVGT Employment Transition Support Coach
“I love knowing that I can make a positive difference; when participants call to share good news with you without having an appointment. I love when they bring their newborn babies in to visit, when they enrol into a course, find meaningful work or when they call you for advice – just knowing my participants know I am here to help makes it all worthwhile.”
Should I return to work after having kids?
“The obvious benefit of working is money and independence. Being a working parent, you set an example for your own kids on what they can achieve. Kids learn a lot from us parents, you can teach and show them what can be achieved.”
The benefits of being a working parent are many and although it can be daunting the CVGT Employment ParentsNext program can help you to navigate your way back into the workplace.
“When you’re ready, we’ll be ready,” Kathryn says of getting connected to CVGT Employment.
Tracey has some advice for parents who might be struggling
“Our kids remember quality time; not so much material things so love and support your kids,” Tracey says.
“Don’t be too hard on yourself and don’t sell yourself short. We are not ‘just parents,’ there is so much more to all of us.”
Connect with CVGT Employment
If you would like to learn more about ParentsNext or how CVGT Employment can support you, visit cvgt.com.au or call 132 848.
Connect to the CVGT Employment ParentsNext program
Our ParentsNext service is available to parents returning to the workforce in metropolitan Melbourne and Victoria’s Goulburn Murray region, including Echuca, Shepparton and Albury-Wodonga. Find a branch near you.
Click the button below to learn more about ParentsNext or how CVGT Employment can support you to find meaningful work.