Carers Week – Meet Frances Gammino

October 17, 2016

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It’s National Carers Week from 16 – 22 October – a time to say ‘Thank You’ to Australia’s estimated 2.8 million unpaid carers who contribute so much to our citizens and our communities.

At Interchange Outer East we provide support and services to  mums, dads, grandparents, siblings, guardians and relatives who take on the care of children and young people with disabilities. We understand the struggles and the joys that carers experience and want to add out own ‘Thank You’ to those carers who are a part of IOE.

So we would like to introduce you to just one such carer.

“My name is Frances Gammino. I am a parent of three children, two boys and a girl. Both my boys have ASD.

Our family has been a part of IOE now for around thirteen years and during that time every family member has been involved in the wonderful programs that IOE provides. My sons have attended school holiday programs, Children’s Rec and Youth Groups. My daughter has made lots of friends through Sibling Support. Both my husband, Frank, and myself are regulars on Mums and Dads outings and the entire family has been on more family camps and activities than we can count!  My daughter and one of my sons are now IOE volunteers and my older son now is getting out and about with a volunteer host ‘buddy’ – they have become best friends and are both sport and fitness mad so have lots in common. That’s quite a bit of involvement!

For the past seven years I have been a Support Group Facilitator for the Parent Support Network. I started off as a parent volunteer. As a carer I knew what is was like to struggle and how important it is to be able to access support and meet other parents who are on a similar journey. After a year of volunteering I was offered the role of facilitating all six groups in the Eastern Region. I love facilitating support groups as I have met some truly amazing carers and families. I continually learn from all the carers and have found that networking is the best way for us all to share information about what services are around and how we can help each other. Knowing the difference IOE’s support had made to our life, becoming a facilitator at Parent Network was one way I felt I could give back to others in the community who also had kids with disability.  Knowing that others care makes the journey easier.

This year has been one of great change as the Parent Support Network has now merged with Interchange Outer East. This has created some wonderful possibilities for me to help facilitate other IOE programs like the Grandparent Carers group and the new Yarra Ranges support Groups. We are also in discussions about a new Manningham Support group focusing on Multiculturalism inclusion for Carers. It is an exciting time to be facilitating as the opportunities that IOE offers to families and Carers are continually growing and expanding.

So now the ‘IOE Family’ has become not only my ‘Family’s Family’ but is now my ‘Work Family’ as well.”

Thankyou Frances and all our other IOE Carers and Happy National Carers Week.

by Sandra Leehy

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