Emerald mum Andrea Clyne has been a rock for her family through tough times, and the CQUniversity social work student wants to help other families get through, too.
Her passion has been recognised, with a CQUniCares GWI Scholarship to help ensure she can achieve her goals.
A mum to four kids and working part-time in hospitality, Andrea took on her Bachelor of Social Work in 2020, after caring for both her parents until their deaths that year.
“I’d always wanted to be a social worker, and I started in that field right after high school, as a youth worker at a homeless shelter in Rockhampton,” Andrea said.
The shortage of skilled social workers hit closer to home when Andrea’s mum was diagnosed with motor neurone disease and progressed into palliative care.
“Caring for my parents, and obviously for my kids as well, being there for everyone became my whole life for that period of time – you’re there and you have to pick up the pieces,” she said.
Through that process, Andrea said there was no provision of social worker support for her parents or for the grieving family, including her children who are all on the autism spectrum.
“I think it would have made a big difference if my parents had been able to talk through with someone, outside of family and friends, about how they were feeling – they could have approached death with less fear,” she said.
“It is challenging in regional areas, there’s only a very small group of counsellors and psychologists in the region – my kids still see a psych to work through the trauma of the experience, and that’s via Zoom because we can’t get local appointments.
“Once I’ve graduated, I’d love to run support groups for people experiencing loss and grieving, and especially for families who all go through it together.”
Andrea, who grew up in Mt Larcom (Gladstone region, Queensland), said returning to study as a mum was challenging, but the scholarship made financial considerations much easier.
“I work part-time and find time for study when everybody’s asleep – and the scholarship means I don’t have to spend time thinking about how to pay for textbooks, or residential schools,” she said.
“It’s a huge relief, and I’m really grateful that support is available.”
The CQUniCares GWI Scholarship provides financial support to two deserving individuals each year, enabling them to overcome the obstacles placed in their path and reach their full potential. We are proud to be able to positively impact the lives of talented and deserving people who may otherwise be unable to complete their studies. Applications for the 2023 scholarships are officially open, to learn more and apply, click here.