When Amanda Liddell had kids she knew she could never go back to being a Police Officer. Being a mother made her feel too vulnerable to deal with domestic violence and child mistreatment. Instead, she wanted to work with women at the peak of their power. So, at the age of 40, she went back to university, sat beside school leavers less than half her age and studied midwifery.
It wasn’t easy. Amanda says 90 percent of the university work was organising her time and the children. She had to get the kids to teach her how to use a computer, put them to bed and then study until midnight.
But she topped her class and now helps bring new life into the world in what she says is the most amazing job in the world.
When Australian women turn fifty they are given two birthday presents from their country; a free mammogram and a bowel screen kit. Age Discrimination Commissioner, Susan Ryan, would like a third gift. A mid-career check-up that will extend their working life and possibly help with a career change like Amanda's.
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In the latest Debrief Daily podcast called ‘Just Between Us’ (which you can listen to here on podcast or here on SoundCloud) we discuss reinventing careers. Susan Ryan (who had her own change from Politician to Publisher to Human Rights Commissioner) told us women need to readjust and reinvent their careers to better negotiate a shifting economy.
Ms Ryan hopes TAFE colleges will ultimately be funded to help women do with the mid career check up and also assist with retraining. She’s even hoping there is funding in the next budget. The Commissioner acknowledges it’s not easy to change careers and transition can be tricky. She knows only too well about age discrimination in the workforce and says too often women feel unwanted or ignored. Some leave their job but find it hard to get a new job or stay and get unhappy and depressed. A mid career check up could help turn this into a positive transition into new growing areas where life experience counts.
Podcast 1: Libido. Listen here.
While some women want to get pragmatic and rational to ensure their future, others have a greater freedom at this time of their life and enough bravery to take the plunge and follow their passion. Many embrace dramatic change - from beautician to vet nurse, journalist to doctor, marketing guru to high school teacher, nurse to army officer, film-maker to sculptor, photographer to meditation guru. Indeed, women starting their own business are driving the small business economy and are often all about gaining more autonomy, flexibility, creativity and control.
Podcast 2: Face. Listen here
On our podcast Amanda and Liddell talked about how they both reinvented their career and life. Gena Karpf always loved food and saw cooking as a hobby. She started her career as a hairdresser, worked with homeless youth, became an executive at IBM before she embraced her passion for sugar. After studying in Paris and Sydney to become a pastry chef Gena now runs her own business ‘Sweetness’. Hear how a marshmallow changed her life.
Susan Ryan says women need to head towards the growth areas of the economy such as aged care. She says getting back into the workplace or changing jobs is difficult but women’s life experience is a vital asset. Amanda Liddell found her experience as a police officer made her a better midwife as did her age and her life experience.
The government’s 2015 Intergenerational Report has told us we all have to keep working longer to sustain the economy and an ageing population. But if women are to keep working they will need encouragement, guts and assistance to reinvent or realign their careers.
There is opportunity in the change.
Listen to the full podcast on Soundcloud here:
Or find it on iTunes here.