Harmony Week - Janneke Barber-Stevens

#OurBHS #OurCommunity
Thursday 18 March 2021

As part of Harmony Week 2021, we’re sharing stories of our staff; where they come from, and why diversity creates a richness within our community. Our second profile is of Janneke Barber-Stevens, Team Leader for Carer Gateway at Ballarat Health Services.

Describe your background

I was born in the Netherlands and came to Australia at the age of 27, to be with my Australian husband whom I met when travelling. I grew up in a family with 3 children. My brother still lives in the Netherlands, my sister in Canada and I am here, so it’s about time for a family reunion. I studied Social Work in a city called Zwolle and obtained my degree in 1996.

In the Netherlands I worked with teenagers with intellectual disabilities, as well as with young adults with behavioural concerns, learning independent living skills in a residential youth service. Later on, I also worked in the community with adults with disabilities, assisting them in independent living. Once in Australia, I worked for a while at a Disability Service in Ballarat and at DHHS in Disability Services as a Case Manager, before starting my job with carers at Ballarat Health Services.

How long have you been working at BHS? What is your role?

I have worked at BHS since 2003 when I started as a Case Manager at the Carer Respite and Support Services. In recent years the program has gone through many changes and is now also known as The Carer Gateway. Since 2019 I have been in a shared role as Team Leader.

What does diversity mean to you?

Diversity means that we are not all the same, which is a great strength in a community, such as a workplace. If we draw on the differences in who we are, our life experiences and our thinking we can achieve great outcomes for the people we provide a service to, as they are also not all the same.

What would you like other people to know about your heritage?

The Country

The Netherlands, sometimes known as Holland, is a densely populated small country located in Western Europe. The word ‘Netherlands' (literally “lower countries”) refers to the country’s flat and low land. Much of the country's current land was taken from the sea. The shoreline was extended by building dikes in the ocean and then pumping the water out of the area between the dikes and the original shoreline.

The People

A common Dutch motto is “doe maar gewoon", which means that one should do things practically and modestly. This reflects the Dutch cultural tendency for using common sense and practicality. The Dutch can come across as direct communicators.

The Dutch have a great sense of community and on ‘Kings Day’ people come out to many of the festivities and wear orange to celebrate. Or when the canals freeze, you will see large quantities of people ice skating and socialising.

This year’s theme is ‘everyone belongs’, what does that mean to you?

One definition of inclusion I found was “the practice or policy of providing equal access to opportunities and resources for people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized, such as those who have physical or mental disabilities and members of other minority groups”.

Potentially this could imply that a majority group decides to ‘grant’ minority groups with equal opportunities and resources.

‘Everyone belongs’ for me means inclusion both ways. No certain groups ‘granting’ other groups the right to equality, but a general understanding that people are equal and have access to the same opportunities and resources. In a workplace this would mean that everyone is

  • RESPECTED for who they are and able to be themselves;
  • CONNECTED to their colleagues and feel they belong;
  • CONTRIBUTING their perspectives and talents to the workplace; and
  • PROGRESSING in their career at work (i.e. have equal access to opportunities and resources).

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