Di Fisher knew from a young age that working for Uniting was her calling.
After meeting Uniting (then known as Kilmany Family Care) staff as a 16-year-old student doing work experience at the local Bairnsdale hospital, Di made a decision that would shape the course of her life.
“The values of Kilmany Family Care resonated with me,” says Di.
“It didn’t matter who you were, everyone was treated the same. Everyone was welcome.
“I made the decision then that I would work for (Uniting) and I started to work towards that goal.
“And those values remain the same today.”
The born and bred Bairnsdale local started at Uniting in 1993 and has now dedicated over half her life to the organisation.
“I still have the minutes from the meeting where I was introduced as a new staff member at Kilmany Family Care,” she says.
Since that time, Di has worked in various practitioner roles.
And in 1998, at 29-years-old, she took on her first leadership role as a strategy co-ordinator.
Today, she is the Executive Officer of Uniting Gippsland and Carer Services.
Many things have changed over the years.
“We’ve had a few name changes from Kilmany Family Care, Kilmany Uniting Care, Uniting Care Gippsland and now Uniting Vic.Tas,” says Di.
“When I started there were about 25 staff across Gippsland. Today we have over 125.
“Because the community services sector is very dynamic, there is always growth and change.
“It’s exciting to be part of that change and see the growth in our programs and services here in Gippsland.”
While the organisation has evolved under Di’s watch, some things have remained the same.
“Uniting has always recruited good people. And we have always invested in our staff and helped develop leaders in the sector,” she says.
“And we offer a family friendly environment. I feel like my two children grew up in Uniting .
“Kids often come here after school and do their homework in the lunchroom.
“We’ve had staff move here from Melbourne and other staff have offered them somewhere to stay while they find permanent housing.
“It’s that understanding that we’re a community and we’re all in it together.
“When you’re going through a tough time, we’ve got your back. And that community spirit will never change.”
That spirit has seen the region get through devastating drought, bushfires and floods many times.
“Working in rural and regional environments, people just get on and do what needs to be done,” says Di.
“I love that my colleagues just put their hands up and get the job done, especially during times of crisis. That makes me very proud.
“We have a diverse environment here, from beautiful beaches to remote high country.
“But it really is the people who make the place.
“I feel lucky to call this place home.”