CHRIS MAKES A DIFFERENCE IN DECADES OF DEVOTION
A TOWNSVILLE social worker who has clocked up more than 30 years of service says the advice from an old teacher put her on the path that changed her life.
Townsville University Hospital assistant director of social work
Chris Fox has celebrated 35 years of dedication to the health of
North Queenslanders, and countless people have had their lives changed for the better thanks to her healing skills.
Ms Fox said it was nursing that first caught her eye as a young woman but social work eventually became her passion.
“I ran into an old teacher of mine who was a social worker and she said I’d make a good one,” she said.
“I was pursuing nursing at the time but I rather liked the idea of social work when she suggested it, so I applied to James Cook University and was accepted in my late-20s.
“Social work and nursing both seek to assist people at vulnerable times, so I thought social work would be right for me.
“I will concede, though, that I didn’t fully understand what social work was about in the early days.”
Ms Fox said she quickly realised that social work was more than just about helping individuals.
“Social work isn’t just working with people, it’s working with systems and the community to empower those who have become disempowered through illness, poverty or other life circumstances,” she said.
“I have worked as a social worker across many areas of health, particularly neonatal, paediatrics and obstetrics.
“These years were certainly challenging and required an ability to support people experiencing distress and trauma.
“While I often couldn’t change the distressing events affecting these people, it was rewarding to make a difference to how those events were managed.”
Ms Fox said people didn’t always know if she and her colleagues made an impact working in healthcare.
“We encounter people for a very brief time and that time is mostly a difficult one for them,” she said.
“On occasion, however, people have remembered and approached me outside work; some from many
years ago, to tell me I’d made a real difference for them during traumatic times in their lives.
“One woman remembered me in a lift once and told me I saved her life because of the support I had provided to her.
“It was 15 years later when she saw me but it was one of the greatest compliments I could have received.”
Ms Fox said while plenty had changed for social workers in 35 years, the ethics and values of the profession hadn’t. “It’s great to see after all these years that the next generation of social workers are upholding those values,” she said.