Collaborating with thought leaders

Appointing a person whose role is “Manager, Practice, Development & Innovation” says a lot about an organisation.

Acting Director, CatholicCare Social Services, Hunter-Manning, Gary Christensen, created the role so that there would be an individual dedicated to supporting clinical practice, coaching and mentoring managers and teams, bridging the gap that can exist between evidence-based knowledge and practice and encouraging reflective practice supporting a positive workplace culture. 

Psychologist Tanya Russell, whose name is familiar to Aurora readers as the wisdom behind CareTalk (page 9), was appointed to the new role earlier this year and has been relishing the opportunity to focus on something that has long interested her: innovation.

“In order for innovation to occur, my goal is to identify and collaborate with thought leaders who can contribute to the future direction and sustainability of CatholicCare,” said Tanya recently.

“Bringing new ideas that enhance our services will help us with sustainability, and more importantly, in meeting the changing needs of the community. It is important that we diversify our funding sources and demonstrate that we are being creative in making a difference in people’s lives.”

‘Thought leaders’ are important in supporting the work Tanya does. They range from colleagues with the particular ability to think differently or to see other possibilities, to professionals beyond CatholicCare and academics in the broader fields of social services, education and health.

This practice of encouraging ‘thinking differently’ is underpinned by Tanya’s long experience in counselling, executive coaching, managing teams of staff and reflecting critically on research outcomes. As she says, “I’m still a psychologist and will continue to provide services in my capacity as an executive coach to a number of professionals working in the health and education sectors.”

Tanya continues to grow in appreciation of CatholicCare’s commitment, as an employer, to fostering a positive workplace culture. Asked what this means in practical terms, Tanya’s brimming with ideas!

“It’s about people being happy to come to work – most days! – feeling that their ideas matter and that no practice or program is set in stone. I’d like to think all my colleagues would feel they could come to me with questions and thoughts. ‘Can we do this differently?’ ‘How can we address this need?’ ‘What’s the research saying about this?’”

Clearly Tanya is happy to come to work. “I’m excited about the future of CatholicCare and to be able to contribute to its success is a wonderful feeling.”

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Tracey Edstein Image
Tracey Edstein

Tracey Edstein is a member of the Raymond Terrace Parish and a freelance writer with a particular interest in church matters.

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