Corina Modderman is a lecturer in Social Work and Social Policy at the La Trobe Rural Health School in Shepparton. She has over 18 years of experience in child protection having worked in a variety of senior leadership roles across the world, and is now undertaking her PhD.
In her own words
In 1998 I completed my honours degree in Social Work in the Netherlands following a Bachelor in Art Therapy. My final placement was undertaken in child protection and paved the way for a career path around the world.
After eight years of experience in child protection, I applied for a position in Wales as a senior social worker. Improving my English language skills and understanding child protection in Wales was difficult, but I welcomed the challenge. After five years a desire to explore new places was lingering so I started searching for jobs in Australia.
Phone interviews and skype calls followed, most of them in the middle of the night. In early 2009, I secured a job in a management position in a rural child protection office. Things moved fast - visas were sorted, the house was packed, tickets were booked and almost six months later I arrived, together with my husband and then two and a half year old son.
I worked for five years in child protection when an opportunity came along to work at La Trobe’s Albury-Wodonga campus in the Social Work team. At this time I also started my PhD about transnational social workers who, like myself, practice across borders in statutory child protection. I took a year of unpaid leave to work as a lecturer and loved it from the start. When another contract came up I decided to move into academia.
In 2017 I moved to the Shepparton campus where I am now heading up the social work course.
After almost nine years living and working in rural Victoria I can say it has been a journey! With a daughter being born in Australia and a son raised here we now call it home. Raising a family in regional Victoria has been great with lots of outdoor activities and sports. There are many opportunities and I have made sure to make the most of it. Community engagement is important for me, and I am a board director at the Centre against Violence and recently took a seat at the leadership table of the Lighthouse Foundation in Greater Shepparton. I am very grateful for the opportunity to undertake a PhD, this would never have been possible in the Netherlands where social work is not an academic discipline as such.
One of the challenges is to create new connections and belong in a culture that looks the same but can be very different and at times conservative in comparison with my native homeland. Family will always be far away and at times I feel split between two places that are now both so close to my heart.
My aspirations are to finalise my PhD, to set up a great social work course in Shepparton, to be engaged in interesting research, and become a professor over time. One strange thing coming from industry into academia is that having been a senior manager it almost feels the career journey starts again. In my free time I am an avid cross-fitter and aim to lift more kilos, it all comes down to persistence, patience, skill development and sticking with it, very similar to doing a PhD!