Senior case manager Gaynor Holmes is passionate about reducing rates of family violence and working with children who have been subject to violence.

Employed at a large children’s community agency funded by the Department of Human Services, Gaynor believes that the landscape of family violence work has changed significantly in recent times.

“The biggest change is awareness, there’s an increase in reports of family violence and it’s no longer a private issue that stays at home. There have been a lot of legal and systemic changes and better access to support for families and children," she says.

With her strong sense of justice and equality, Gaynor decided at a young age that she wanted to work with disadvantaged children and families. Unsure if she could go to university directly, Gaynor joined Chisholm to study for a Diploma of Community Services as a pathway into university. As she continued onto a Bachelor of Social Work at Deakin University, the Chisholm diploma gave her credits for a range of subjects, saving her a substantial amount of time and study in completing the degree.


“The Chisholm pathways were amazing. The Diploma of Community Services counted towards 1.5 years off my degree and saved me over $10,000. And at a time when I had no networking opportunities, the placement I did through Chisholm led to full-time employment."

Having been in her current role for three years, Gaynor handles 10 cases at any given time and spends four hours per week with each family. She engages in outreach by going out to the homes of families and children and also works within schools and childcare centres. An integral part of her job is to also provide counselling and referral support into related areas of mental health, drug and alcohol abuse and financial help. Gaynor says she most enjoys seeing families get back on their feet and the work she does with children.

“I love the work that I do: it’s extremely varied. I work with newborn babies and babies in utero all the way through to families. The reward that I get from helping children is phenomenal.”

Gaynor’s advice to students aspiring to a career in community services, is to work hard at placements and to keep networking.

“If you are committed to your placement there is a high likelihood of being offered employment. It is a closed network and if you’ve got a good reputation you will have work coming your way."

She estimates an entry-level case worker in the not-for-profit sector can on average earn $60,000, while going into specialist work, policy or senior management can increase your earning potential from $80,000  up to $130,000. There are also opportunities for casual work which pay more, and generous salary sacrifice options available.

A mum of three, Gaynor is proud of her achievements and believes that seeing her study hard for her qualifications has in turn inspired her children to be studious. She plans to do her Master of Social Work and also hopes to teach case management and family violence.