Phil Duncan

Phil Duncan

What is your role as a carer and who do you care for?

My wife and I care for two of our grandchildren and we share responsibility for the care of key members within our very large families on both sides. I am the oldest of five and my siblings and I each rotate taking turns to look after my Mum and Dad over a five-week period to ensure we can all maintain our work commitments. My wife and I also have carer responsibilities that are not confined to our immediate families, and in fact extend out in to our wider community. We are both in positions of status as respected persons within our communities and we honour that by looking after many people through mentoring, giving support, and showing up when it counts.

What are some of the responsibilities of your role at the university? What does a typical day look like for you?

My day starts at 5:00am and this is usually with the granddaughters getting them breakfast and spending quality time with them, giving us a fantastic opportunity at home to listen to and learn from each other.

I am absolutely loving my role here at Macquarie University as Aboriginal Cultural Training Coordinator in Walanga Muru. I get to work with great people, particularly younger Aboriginal people who are on their own journeys of discovery and have their own desire to make a difference. Part of my role is about giving people an opportunity to learn something new and think outside the box. I have such a strong drive to make sure that people feel included and valued and to encourage them to go on a journey together with me to explore our ethics and values and celebrate our diversity. I have a very trusting and supporting Team Leader who affords me the opportunity to use my initiative while always being there to provide support, advice and strategic direction.

What is the most challenging aspect of being a carer and also having a career?

Being in such a supportive environment, I don’t believe it is so much challenging, but finding the “balance”. The balance between work, being a carer of others, and caring for yourself. I also value and appreciate the cultural sensitivities and understanding of our own cultural responsibilities to care for family members. Here in Walanga Muru, family does come first and supportive and flexible work practices are initiatives that are paramount in the mind of our Team Leader.

What are some of the strategies that you’ve used to overcome these challenges and what have the impacts for you been both personally and professionally?

Having a Team Leader that I trust and one who understands Aboriginal peoples responsibilities for family and community, through their own professional experiences, is very refreshing. Being able to approach these conversations knowing that I am supported makes all the difference. This really does help mitigate the emotional roller-coaster ride that we often have to navigate. So personally I feel very comfortable and the ripple effect is that I am comfortable professionally. Being happy knowing support is there is extremely comforting so that makes the professional aspects easier to manage.

Are there any benefits at MQ that you've taken advantage of, and if so, how have these helped you?

Flexible work practices and having someone I trust to talk to has benefited me greatly and helped me to feel like I belong here. This has enabled me to meet my work commitments and stay focused, knowing that if anything does happen I can act accordingly and will be supported by my team. I’ve found the Macquarie community on the whole to be very supportive and generous, and having the opportunity to learn new IT skills by working with wonderful people in the Learning Innovation Hub has added to the tools that I can use moving forward in my career. It’s great that we have such a diverse community here where each person can add their own unique perspective and learn from others.

What are your top tips for other employees who have caring responsibilities and also want to have fulfilling and rewarding careers?

Trust the people around you and trust your own judgement. Honour your commitments to family and make sure that you are talking about the commitments as it will help you stay focused. Most of all find how you can achieve balance between work and life and make time for yourself and your partner. You need to have some downtime and self-care, so that you can be the best version of yourself. To be the best for others, I have to be the best for myself too.

Back to the top of this page