When Emily pauses to reflect on her journey with ParentsNext, she is amazed by how far she has come.

“When I first joined Bamara’s ParentsNext program I was a young single mum with very little experience and no formal qualifications,” Emily says.

With no family support, the road to employment looked rough.

Now she is working in administration for a radio station in her adopted hometown of Tamworth.

She is halfway through a Media & Communications degree at the University of New England. Her five-year-old daughter is excited about starting school next year.

Things are going right.

“I think the most important thing that Bamara gave me was confidence. From the moment I met my Case Manager Kate, I felt like she genuinely cared if I succeeded.

“A lot of the courses she enrolled me for seemed to have self-care as a central theme, and it sounds corny but they really helped me believe in myself.

“Throughout my time at Bamara, with their help, I stopped seeing the barriers on my road to employment and started recognising all the good qualities and skills I had. Without Bamara, I never would have even applied for the job I currently have because I thought I wasn’t good or qualified enough for it.

“And now here I am, working in a job I love, and almost sad to see the day when I’m no longer part of the ParentsNext program that made this possible.”

Emily says that in the past she would get stressed, especially when major university assignments were due, and not prioritise taking care of herself.

“I have learned the importance of looking after myself a bit more. Through ParentsNext I did an online course called Relax & Reset, which did exactly as the name suggests!

It was great to get on Zoom, chat with other mums, and learn relaxing breathing and meditation techniques. It was honestly as good as therapy – I feel genuinely like it ‘reset’ my outlook on life.

“I was also enrolled in an online yoga class. I never thought I would like yoga, but I loved this class so much.

“I learned new yoga skills every week and felt like I was doing something just for me.

“As a mum, I had never really done something like that before, and I never would have if Kate hadn’t called me to suggest it.”

Emily also praises programs like Dress for Success and Caring For Yourself which provided valuable interview and self-care tips that contributed to securing her radio job.

When it was difficult for her to cover the cost of university textbooks, Bamara stepped in.

“During the heart of the pandemic, I felt Kate really stepped up to make sure I was doing okay,” Emily says.

“She enrolled me in a Bamara laptop course which has been a lifesaver for my online studies.

“The thing that stood out for me all the way through was how much Kate and everyone else there truly wanted me to succeed, not just fulfilling their job duties but actually wanting me to do well.”

Emily describes her radio station job as “super entry-level” but it is a great foot in the door of the media industry.

Once she graduates, she will have a broad spectrum of career opportunities, from corporate communications to journalism.

Whatever the future holds, she is moving forward to meet it with strength and confidence.