It’s fair to say that no two days in the life of a family therapist look the same. On any given day it may include creating a safe space for distressed family members to navigate trauma, and on another day, it can be hopeful. Since 2009, VACRO Family Therapist Romy Same has supported parents who are in prison, their children, and families. Something that continues to inspire Romy is, “The client’s ability to hold hope, even though they’re in a system that can be disempowering, or their life circumstance can be so overwhelming, they make me hopeful. I actually learn a lot and get a lot of inspiration from my clients.”

Romy’s career with VACRO began when she was half-way through a two-year clinical master’s program in family therapy. Back then, Romy’s work focused on liaising with family services and the schools of children who had a parent, or whose parents, were incarcerated. “I did more outreach, I would go to schools and talk to children in private rooms, or at Neighbourhood Houses, which meant the services were more accessible to families who couldn’t come into the city.”

Reflecting on those early years with VACRO, Romy says, “I found it really powerful…making the school a safer place for some of the kids we worked with.”

Romy shared another aspect about her role at the time, “A big part of my role was professional development to community services wanting to upskill in working with this group. Sometimes it was informal, at the schools, and other times it was more formalised professional development for different organisations.”

A big highlight for Romy in 2022 was to reconnect with two of her first clients, now young adults. Several videos were made for VACRO’s 150th Anniversary Celebration, highlighting different aspects of the organisation’s work with families over the years. One of the videos featured two of Romy’s first clients, whose mother was incarcerated when they were young children. Reflecting on their childhood experiences with VACRO one said, “Seeing you (Romy) every week was like an escape because I knew you understood.”

Of that experience, Romy said, “To be in a position as a professional, to hear 10 years later how you made an impact, I still get goosebumps, that’s so rare. What a gift that I got from them. I just feel that’s incredible. Seeing them and hearing them talk about their experience, that’s huge.”

Currently, Romy is focused on supporting the kids and families of fathers who are incarcerated at Beechworth Correctional Centre and the Judy Lazarus Transition Centre. “I work with fathers around the various issues blocking them from being the father they want to be, the parent they want to be, the human they want to be.”