An infinite interest in people and a passion for wanting to address disadvantage is what Michaela Baker says keeps her inspired in her role as ReLink Program Manager.

This past year saw Michaela leading her team of 14 through an ever-changing environment of modified service delivery due to COVID-related lockdowns and restrictions, as well as through the stress of waiting for confirmation of the new contract for the continued funding of the ReLink Program.

“As much as my staff on the ground were experiencing uncertainty, I was in exactly the same position,” shared Michaela. When asked how she navigated this for both her and her team, Michaela said, “Going through the process of having to lead a team through the stresses of the pandemic was our first step in really growing as individuals and for the first time as leaders, not just managers.”

Michaela originally joined VACRO in 2011, shortly after graduating from university, where she earned Bachelor degrees in criminology and psychology.

Over the last ten plus years, Michaela has witnessed numerous changes at VACRO. Although the executive has changed, Michaela says the culture of the organisation has remained consistent.

“In the time I’ve been with VACRO, I’ve been super impressed that we have changed with the times. There’s a risk when you have an organisation with so much history that it becomes a bit archaic. We’ve brought in the right people and made the right changes so that flexible working arrangements are a possibility, and a dog-friendly office is something that everyone’s on board with. It’s good to see we’ve rolled with the times, not just stayed rooted in our past,” said Michaela.

Like so many others, Michaela worked remotely during the year. However, for some of that time, Michaela’s office was a little further away from VACRO’s main office than her colleagues. For three months, Michaela worked remotely from the UK while managing her team and developing different aspects of the ReLink Program. Back in Melbourne, accompanying Michaela in the office this year was her sidekick Hendrix, an adorable Dachshund who, like his owner, brings a smile to the face of everyone he encounters.