“Case management is where I’m suited to be, and I really enjoy it,” says Stacy Smithwick, a Case Manager in VACRO’s ReConnect Program, who, in the next financial year will take on the role of the Program’s Regional Manager for the areas of Loddon Mallee, Grampians, and Barwon South West.

Prior to commencing her career with VACRO in 2017, Stacy had been working with a different organisation in the prisons, focusing on post-release housing programs. A conversation with a Case Manager for VACRO’s ReConnect Program led Stacy to apply with VACRO, one thing led to another, and Stacy’s never looked back. “I wanted to have more contact with people out in the community, to see where they’re up to and how they’re going,” Stacy says.

“It’s the small things that make you want to do your job every day,” says Stacy. However, organising a relatively routine device for a client this past year turned out to be anything but small.

One of Stacy’s highlights this past year was getting a little bossy with a man in his mid-seventies who came through the ReConnect Program. After helping him to secure housing, “He let me go hammer and tongs,” Stacy said about helping him set up his home. Of his trust for her, Stacy said, “I really appreciated it.” This man doesn’t have any family in Victoria, so Stacy insisted he get a medical alert device. The man was convinced he didn’t need one, but Stacy was adamant and eventually the man agreed, albeit reluctantly.

Sure enough, in time the man fell, had a heart attack, and passed out. Thanks to the medical alert device Stacy insisted upon, an ambulance attended the man’s home and got him to hospital where he was cared for. “He told me that I saved his life by being bossy,” Stacy says.

Of her career in case management Stacy says, “I’ve had my ups and downs with it.” There are at least two things Stacy can point to for inspiration, “You see the outcome of each participant”, and “We’ve got a really good team, it’s fantastic, they drop everything to help each other.” Reflecting on her colleagues, Stacy says, “Trust, respect, and compassion; every Case Manager we have on the ReConnect team has all of those qualities.” And in Stacy’s case, in addition to those three qualities is thankfully, a bit of bossiness.