Tales from Two: Jessica and Vickie

By Jessica Irwin, Vickie Irwin and Kate Reid, 9 May 2019 , Comments

Some may say that you should never work with family, but Parramatta’s Everyday Life Skills Coordinator Jessica (pictured left) and Seven HillsCentre Based Coordinator Vickie are proving the naysayers wrong. This mother daughter team have both been working at Northcott for over a decade, and for them the positives far outweigh the negatives. From providing emotional support through the inevitable hard times, to celebrating LGBTQI rights together at Mardi Gras, this family duo wouldn’t have their working life any other way.


I remember mum coming home from work at Northcott and being happy. She was so proud of the work she was doing and finding a role in which her skills and passion were fully utilised and developed. It was infectious and was ultimately what inspired me to volunteer a few days at Northcott which lead to me being employed.

When I started in 2009, I was working as admin support in the DES service. I was provided lots of training opportunities through Northcott and worked my way from DES, to the Transition to Work Program (now Vocational Skills), then through to Coordinator of Everyday Life Skills. It’s been a wonderful journey.

I’m working at Northcott because of my mum. She believed I could be something special if given the opportunity to support others. I didn’t fully believe her and walked in a bit sceptical. I could see how it was a perfect fit for mum – who was born to work in this industry – but I wasn’t so sure if it would be right for me (I was 18 at the time). But as has so often been the case, mother knows best. From the very first day I loved it and knew Northcott was where I wanted to be.

There is never a dull moment in this job. It can be really difficult working in this field; there are the hard and testing moments but it’s always worth it to see the good – the successes, the growth, the wins.

Over the last 10 years there have been a few memorable moments – two in particular that stand out for me. One was attending a sex education training session with my mum – something that was both awkward and hilarious. The other was representing Northcott at the Mardi Gras together. We both went for the first time and had an absolutely fantastic night! It was a proud moment for me watching my mother wave the rainbow flag and march for both her daughter and PWD.

I never really had any hesitation about working at the same organisation as mum. We have a great working relationship and I think we encourage each other and have a unique understanding of the challenges we face and support each other through it.

We both love our work, which is great. We could dominate a family catch up chatting about what we do. It’s great to have someone that will happily listen and brainstorm ideas and plans. We love it – though I’m not sure how the rest of my family feel about it…


I started at Northcott in 2008 as a support worker and I’m now the Centre Based Coordinator of the Vocational Skills, Everyday Life Skills and Skills 4 Life programs at Seven Hills.

A year after I had started at Northcott, Jess was in the process of figuring out what she was going to do in her working life. Jess was 18 and though she knew she wanted a career that would be both personally satisfying and would allow her to make a difference in other people’s lives, she really didn’t know what that looked like or where to start.

Jess had seen the impact that working at Northcott had made in my life and I knew that Jess was a unique and passionate person, with talents and creativity that could make an impact in any organisation. Because of that, I suggested that Jess volunteer at Northcott, to which she agreed. I was so happy as I knew that this career path would suit her. I was even happier when, within days of volunteering, it was suggested that she apply for a job in our old ‘Jobmatch’ program. That was 10 years ago now.

I would like to think my experience with Northcott influenced her, as I have always loved my job. Jess has seen how I find working at Northcott very rewarding, as it brings together my passion for making an impact on other people’s lives, along with my professional skills.

We have this great knack of being very professional at work. When we see each other we’ll say “Hi Vickie” and “Hi Jessica”, however at the end of the day as we walk out the door it’s “Hey mum!” and “Hey babe!”. We do support each other, especially when we have had a particularly challenging or emotional day at work, which can happen in our industry.

We have had quite a few memorable moments; sharing the experience of supporting customers at Mardi Gras with Jess over the years has been super fun. One year this also included my eldest daughter, Sarah, as she also is a huge advocate for people’s rights.

I see Jess as an amazing, intelligent young woman who has brought passion and inspiration to each of her roles at Northcott. This makes me very proud of her, and I am blessed to say that she is my daughter.

Related content

Learn more about Northcott’s Skills 4 Life – teens offered in our centre based programs.

View more of our Tales from Two stories.


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