Decades of dedication to the young people and their families
27 October 2023 at 9:00 am
Michelle Thompson has been at FAN for almost 10 years in the role of Manager. Michelle has worked in the Community Sector for over 25 years mainly working with young people and their families. She has worked in leadership positions for over 20 years. . Michelle has worked in a variety of settings including Alcohol and Other Drugs, Mental Health, Family Services, Community Health and Youth Homelessness. Michelle holds a Bachelor Degree in Youth Work, Graduate Diploma in Substance Abuse and a Graduate Diploma in Counselling. Michelle was part of the inaugural LGBTIQ Leadership program in 2018 run by Leadership Victoria.
Michelle also teaches in the Tertiary Sector at RMIT in the Diploma of Youth Work. Advanced Diploma Community Sector Management and Recognising and Responding to Sexual Violence. Below is our change maker interview with Michelle.
Describe your career trajectory and how you got to your current position.
I started out in the corporate sector and was not getting much job satisfaction from it. So, I volunteered on a youth drop in outreach bus and enjoyed it so much I decided to complete a degree in Youth Work and changed sectors. As I had experience in senior roles in the corporate sector it wasn’t long before I found myself in a leadership role in the community sector. After many leadership roles in the community sector, I now work in youth homelessness. I have been the manager at Family Access Network (FAN) for almost 10 years so when the CEO retired earlier this year it felt like a natural next step with the support of the retired CEO and the board.
What does this role mean to you?
It means a lot that the board and staff have confidence in me to see FAN into the future. I enjoy that I get to play a part in the wider service system in making a difference in the lives of young people.
Take us through a typical day of work for you.
What I love about this work is there is no typical day. The variety is what keeps me going. Of course, there are many meetings like any other job but also seeing the growth in your staff and clients is inspiring.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve encountered in your career, and how did you overcome it?
I think the initial challenge of changing careers was hard. I had to take a huge pay cut, could only get part time jobs so had to work less hours and in a more junior position. I had to prove my skills whilst they were different, they were transferable from the corporate sector to the community sector. I enrolled is post grad education to up skill myself which saw me getting roles in different areas of the community service sector.
If you could go back in time, what piece of advice would you give yourself as you first embarked on your career?
Definitely around having confidence and backing yourself. I now give this advice to staff. Having imposter syndrome like most people can take up too much energy.
How do you unwind after work?
I go to boot camp 3 times a week – it also helps me leave work at a reasonable time and is a great stress relief.
What was the last thing you watched, read or listened to?
Last thing I read was Tell Me Again by Amy Thunig. An inspiring story from a strong First Nations woman.