For more than two decades at the helm of Victoria’s largest independent child and family services organisation, Sandie de Wolf has helped give a voice to the vulnerable.
As CEO of Berry Street, Sandie helped children, young people, women and families recover from the devastating effects of violence, abuse and neglect.
Having recently retired from Berry Street, Sandie says she is proud of the progress that has been made in upholding every child’s right to feel safe and nurtured.
“I firmly believe a good childhood is the foundation of a healthy adult life and an inclusive society,” Sandie said. “I’m grateful for the career I’ve had – every day there were ethical, emotional and intellectual challenges."
Sandie said it was fitting to receive her award at one of La Trobe’s graduation ceremonies, where she addressed the audience of graduands and their families.
“Seeing all of those students highlighted for me just how important education is in terms of the life opportunities it offers,” Sandie said. “It’s obviously positive for the students, but it’s also hugely beneficial for society because these students become role models for other children, and they contribute to greater diversity in the workforce.”
Sandie begun studying social work at La Trobe after almost 10 years in the sector, and said she returned to study at the perfect time.
“It was such a good thing to do, both personally and professionally, to reflect on my experience and use the Masters to extend my thinking,” Sandie said. “Studying at La Trobe was about taking time for me, as I was also looking after my young children at the time.”
“I firmly believe in trying to do something you’re passionate about. I don’t believe there’s any one particular pathway, it’s really about following the things that interest you and where you feel you can shine.”