In a year of great uncertainty, how can we best take care of our finances and our mental health? And how can we collectively ensure that the financial security and well-being of women and gender diverse people is a central part of COVID-19 recovery?
On Thursday 22 October, the hosts of Money Power Freedom podcast, Cal Wilson and Santilla Chingaipe were joined by mental health expert Georgie Harman (CEO, Beyond Blue), and financial services specialist Amanda Barker (Aware Super) to discuss two two pressing community issues: money and mental health.
This event was made possible thanks to support from our podcast partner, Bank Australia.
Watch the video and read the transcript below:
Worried about money? You’re not alone. Help is available:
Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636
National Debt Helpline 1800 007 007
For more support services, visit: www.vwt.org.au/podcast/financialsupportservices
Cal Wilson: Hello, everyone. Welcome to Money and Mental Health. This is coming to you from the Victoria Women’s Trust, proudly supported by Bank Australia, the bank with clean money. My name is Cal Wilson. I will be co-hosting this event with the marvelous, Santilla Chingaipe. Would you like to say hello, Santilla?
Santilla Chingaipe: Hi, Cal. Hi, everyone. Before we begin, I would like to begin by acknowledging that we are having this conversation on the land of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation. I’d like to acknowledge their elders past, present and emerging, and also acknowledge any elders from other communities that might be joining in today. It has been a while since we’ve had a conversation. The last time we spoke, a pandemic had just hit and we recorded a conversation for our podcast, Money Power Freedom. And things haven’t really changed.
Cal Wilson: No. 2020 has been 4,000 years long. It’s great that we can come together. How weird that we are together even though we’re apart. And what a good time to be talking about money and mental health, because obviously both of these things have been massively impacted for people over the pandemic. What an interesting time it has been.
Santilla Chingaipe: It’s a good thing we’ve got some experts joining us today so we can continue this conversation. It’s very, very important conversation around mental health and money during this pandemic. I will let you kick it off with one of our panelists joining us today, Cal.
Cal Wilson: Great. Thank you. So Georgie Harman is the CEO of Beyond Blue and she’s a big advocate of us achieving our best mental health. So I’m really interested to talk to Georgie today about what we can do to look after ourselves.
Santilla Chingaipe: And there’s also Amanda Barker joining us. Hi, Amanda.
Amanda Barker: Hi.
Santilla Chingaipe: Amanda has extensive experience in financial education, both as a financial planner and a financial counselor. In 2012, she was honored with an Australia Day Public Service Medal Award for her outstanding work in the community. Thank you both for joining us.
Cal Wilson: Yes. It’s so great that you are here. Georgie, I suspect I might know the answer to this, but have more people been trying to access or accessing Beyond Blue this year? Has there been a big upswing of people needing to look after themselves during the pandemic?
Georgie Harman: Yes, Cal, is the short answer. So yeah, it’s lovely to see you both again and great to be here. It’s been an incredible year and I guess a time where Beyond Blue has been needed more than ever. And we started the year with bushfires and we thought that that was our big moment and we already started to see an uplift in context to our support services, an increase level of distress in the community. We thought that was our big moment, and obviously we got that spectacularly wrong. Just to give you some sense of the volume of what we’ve seen this year is year on… So month on month this year, we’ve seen anything from a 40 to a 60% increase in contacts compared to the same last year. So that’s the year that we’re having. And that’s the year that Australians are having.
Georgie Harman: We’re seeing about two-thirds of contacts to our services coming from women. Obviously a big percentage of total contacts at the moment coming from Victorians for obvious reasons. We’re seeing a greater sense of acuity and, unfortunately, a greater sense of discussion of suicide and self-harm, which is obviously very concerning to all of us. But people are calling us for four main reasons. The number one reason is people are calling us feeling real anxiety. The second reason is depression and low mood. The third reason is isolation and loneliness. And the fourth reason is financial stress. So we know that mental health and financial health are the two sides of the same coin. They go absolutely hand in hand. So this doesn’t surprise us at all.
Georgie Harman: What we’re doing through our services is to really try to get people to seek support for their financial health early, as much as they’re seeking support for their mental health early. So it’s been an incredible year and we’re pleased that people are coming to us in one sense, because the earlier they do, the earlier they get that support, the earlier they can start taking the steps to get back to themselves.
Cal Wilson: And so you mentioned this sort of four main things that people are contacting you for. Is that a change from previous years? Or there’s always issues that come up?
Georgie Harman: We’re seeing a lot more financial stress than we normally see. Depression and anxiety are two of the most common reasons people contact us. That’s who we are. We’re the national depression and anxiety organisation. But financial stress is way higher than when we normally see. And also family stress and family violence is much higher than we normally see.
Cal Wilson: Man, that’s such a…What a heartbreaking outcome of this time.
Georgie Harman: Yeah. Look. It is. And I think it’s something obviously we are incredibly worried about and everybody’s working very hard to really try and meet people where they are, I guess, to adjust our services, obviously, to suit the times, but also to kind of really keep stressing that message that if you’re feeling anxious, worried, uncertain, completely out of sorts, that’s actually a really normal feeling to be having in the current very extreme and extraordinary circumstances. So you’re not alone and you don’t need a diagnosis to come to us. You can pick up the phone or jump on our website or contact one of our counselors through web chat, for any reason at any time just for anything. No problem is too big or too small.
Georgie Harman: And I think one of the…If there are any silver linings in this pandemic, it’s the fact that as a community, we’re actually starting to recognise that our mental health is just as important as physical health. So we want people to contact us. We want them to contact us early. And we want them to cast away those feelings of shame. And we want them to cast away that question that perhaps someone else is doing it tougher than me. Just pick up the phone and jump online. That’s what we’re here for.
Cal Wilson: I think that’s such a great point, Georgie, to say that no problem is too big or too small, because I know in my own life I’ve been like, “Well, I haven’t got that much to complain about,” but if it’s wearing on you and if it is causing you distress, it’s absolutely a valid reason to get in touch.
Georgie Harman: Look, the lives that we’re living are so different to the lives that we normally used to live. And as human beings…First of all, we’re tribal. Social contact is really important to us. And that’s really good for our mental health, that sense of connectedness. But secondly, I think a lot of the control has been taken away from us. And that sense of agency is, again, really important to our mental health and that sense of stability and certainty. And all of that’s been taken away from us. So again, it doesn’t matter how old you are, how much money you earn, the color of your skin, where you live, everybody’s feeling this to some degree. This has been, in a sense, the great equalizer, but, in many senses, not an equalizer, because we know that certain [inaudible 00:08:30] much, much tougher than others. But again, no reason, big or small, too big, too small, never too early, never too late. That’s what we’re here for.
Cal Wilson: That’s great.
Santilla Chingaipe: Amanda, if I can just pick up on something that Georgie touched on, which is the fact that some of the people that are calling, reaching out because of financial stress, and recently in the media, we’ve heard this conversation around a so-called “pink recession”. Would you be able to describe what that is and what it means?
Amanda Barker: I guess the first thing I would say, Santi, is that we want the media to change that terminology from “pink recession” to “she-recession”, but essentially it is the same. But there are several things that have caused women now to feel like they’re in recession. And one of the major drivers of this is that there’s a disproportionate representation of women in insecure employment. And that could be because they’re in casual or they’re in freelance. And also additionally that we know that primary care responsibilities generally fall onto women, which has an impact in them being in the workplace, their career, their future financial security.
Amanda Barker: So if I share with you, Santi, an example of how this has played out and during COVID, the first industries that were deeply impacted by mandatory restrictions or quarantine were those industries where they were low-income service industries. So they was classed as non-essential industries. Examples are hospitality, accommodation, non-essential retail, personal services, art and theater. And those industries are highly user, highly casualised workforce where women are predominantly the workforce. And women would tend to move around those industries and often find themselves that they don’t have 12 months of continuous employment. And therefore, they weren’t eligible for JobKeeper payments. So not only were they not getting any income support payments. So not only were they not getting any income support, they weren’t able to find any work during COVID, and still can’t find any work. And then additionally, women have accessed superannuation under the stimulus institute that the federal government made available, but the impact for women is so much more greater.
One, because we don’t have the super balances that men always have on, for all the reasons we probably understand. So, the fact that women access their super early has actually resulted in an average of 21% reduction in their super balance. But more alarmingly, 14% of women have cleared out their superannuation balances, which there’s going to be a knock on effect as you would know.
And I sit on the Gender Equity Victoria Board, and we did a lot of work from the onset to call out the impact that COVID was going to have on women. And importantly, the economic consequences for women are so different than for men. And that is one of the drivers, or many of the drivers, of why it’s been called the “she-cession”.
Santilla Chingaipe: I mean, it’s interesting hearing that because obviously, I think with the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, that was very much hitting men and people that were predominantly working class. But the fact that this pandemic, as you say, is likely going to impact women and non-binary folk is incredibly saddening to hear, obviously.
And so, I guess I’m curious in terms of what can be done to address some of these challenges that might be brought about as a result of this. I mean, as you describe it, but you pretty much described me when you were talking about women that work in a casualised workforce. I’m a freelancer. I was like, “Yeah, me, me, me.”
And so I wonder, I mean, clearly if there isn’t enough support from the government, as you outlined, there have been people that have been left out. What are some of the solutions or support that might be out there for women that might find themselves in that very difficult situation and who might, perhaps, have taken out some of their super?
Amanda Barker: Yes, look. There is a lot of support out there. And in particular, there’s a financial counselors who are a professional service that provide free guidance around how to manage that in particular or how to manage your finances. And you can access a local service by in the National Debt Hotline. And that number, I can remember it. So it’s quite easy to remember. It’s 1800-007-007. So that’s a free service. There’s also other debt management services, but they are fee for service. But I would ask people who were participating in this session, if you go to the government website, Moneysmart, that gives you a lot of information in simple English language, translated language as well. But it gives you simple guidance of how to manage financial stress, pre-COVID and during COVID.
Cal Wilson: That’s great. It’s so great that there are free services as well. Because if you’re already in financial difficulty, how can you think about putting more money that you don’t have? So you’ve got Moneysmart, you’ve got financial advisors. And so we’ve got Beyond Blue should look after the mental health side of things.
Santi, did you do anything during lockdown? Because I imagine we’ve had different lockdowns. I’ve got a family, I’ve got my husband and son that live with me. And you’re single, I believe. Sounds like I’m trying to ask you out. I’m sorry. What did you do in your lockdown that helped your mental health?
Santilla Chingaipe: Routine. I think the last chat that we had with Georgie during the podcast was really helpful. I remember Georgie, you were like, make sure you’re very strict around alcohol. That was a big one for me. I was like, “You know what? Only on the weekend.” Having a routine. Scheduling time to talk to people. I found that I can get very caught up in my work and I can have that tunnel vision. But I found that when I scheduled time in the day to check in with friends and family, that that was actually quite helpful. And it’s been something that I’ve carried through.
But also physical exercise. Being outside here in Melbourne, initially we were given an hour. And that hour was truly a godsend. Because every time I’d be outside, I just found myself just feeling a whole lot better just being out and with the fresh air and everything. So, those were the things that helped me and are continuing to help me. But what about you?
Cal Wilson: Well, the exercise thing, I’m an inside cat. I just like to sit in the window and look out at the world. But I’ve been going for runs because just feeling connected to the world and being in the green and doing something with my body. I stand up or sit down for my job. So it really helped me and still helps me do it. Doing that exercise thing, as much as I complain about while I’m doing it. I baked lots. I did lots of baking for other people. And like you say, scheduling time in to talk to friends, I did that a lot. But also with old friends in New Zealand that normally we’d just text. We actually had FaceTime conversations and it felt much more connected to do that, to actually still be able to see each other.
Cal Wilson: And the other thing that was really good for me was I watched a lot of reality television because it was like just putting, just eating it, just nothing. There was nothing better but I’ve watched a lot of Love it or List it Vancouver. So, very well equipped to value houses 10 years ago in Vancouver. But just things like that, that we did as a family as well. It was a TV show that my son could watch. And we could sit there and all just have family time. But also we went on family walks as well, which was also really good. Although I did do a lot of internal shouting about people not wearing masks.
But the big revelation for me has been the connection. That’s the thing that has fed me the most, I guess, during the pandemic is trying to maintain a connection with friends and people that you care about. And checking in, like you say.
Santilla Chingaipe: Yeah. And just coming back to you, Georgie. It’s probably all the last time we had a conversation with you. What advice do you have for people that are still navigating the pandemic? Because, obviously, here in Victoria restrictions are easing, albeit slowly. What advice would you have for people that are still navigating the challenges, the mental health challenges that the pandemic has brought on?
Georgie Harman: Well, the first thing I’ll say is, I just want to give you both a 10 out of 10. You’re great learners. And all of the things that you just rattled off there, are the things that we’ve been encouraging people to do because they are highly protective of our mental health. And just setting those small anchors in our day, that just take ourselves out of the doom and gloom and just give us a little bit of joy, or routine, or connection is just so important.
Georgie Harman: So what would I say to people, Santi? I’d say, try and do the things that work for you. So all of the things that you’ve talked about. Staying connected, eating as well as you can, exercising as much as you can, sleep is a really big thing. And again, not taking your screens to bed with you. Having downtime from screens is really important and really helps you sleep.
Georgie Harman: Sleep has been really important to me as well as staying off the grog. But the other thing is just curate your media and your news settings. I have a rule in my house now, and it’s a rule that I’ve imposed on myself in recent weeks. Is I just cannot bear to look at the news anymore. And I get the updates that I need to to feel like I know what’s happening. You can get stuck in that vortex of scrolling through socials. And that’s actually really bad for us right now. So there’s just another couple of tips. But if people are really not finding that that is settling them and helping them, pick up the phone to Beyond Blue. If it’s been a couple of weeks or more where you’re really not feeling yourself, that’s the time to take some action. And that’s again, what we’re there for.
Georgie Harman: But I think the other thing just coming back to the things that are working for me. I’m enrolled in a 66 day, 10 minute a day mindfulness challenge. I’ve never done mindfulness before. And it’s one of those things that you think, “Oh, is that a bit [inaudible 00:09:37]? Does that really work?” Scientifically based, right. And it’s the first time I’ve tried to practice mindfulness. But just that 10 minutes a day where I still my thoughts, it’s actually having a really big difference to me. So, just things like that. And there’s lots of free stuff like that out there at the moment. There’s Smiling Mind and a whole range of things.
Georgie Harman: So, the other thing that I think we need to be really conscious of as we’ve been through weeks of this now, is what we call the dose effect. So when we, for example, take painkillers or medication, sometimes our body adjusts so that it doesn’t have the same impact on our pain. And it’s the same thing for the routines that we’re setting ourselves. The things that I found to be very helpful, and I know a lot of other people found to be very helpful in the early days, have kind of worn off. You actually need to be conscious of that and mix it up a little bit. And the final thing I’d say is and I keep on saying it. You do not need to emerge from this pandemic having written a novel, baked sourdough, learn 13 languages and with a six pack. Just do whatever you need to do to get through this. And that is good enough.
Cal Wilson: I think that’s such a vital thing to say, Georgie. Because I know even with me, I’m like, “Oh, one of my friends has written a picture book.” And I’m like, “Oh, I watched 21 seasons of Survivor.” That’s my achievement in lockdown.
Georgie Harman: Can I just say, Survivor is one of my all time favorite shows.
Cal Wilson: So Amanda, just going back to you for a moment. You’ve given us some great tips of places to go. Are there any other little tips you can give people to sort of get on top of their financial situation?
Amanda Barker: Sure. There is. And I’ll break it into two responses. But before I give the tips, one of the things that’s really important is for us to know our relationship with money, which seems really strange, right? But how do we behave with money? We need to know this because I can give the tips. What’s going to make us act on it and do it? So when I talk about relationship with money, it may be that you’re quite impulsive, or it might be that you’re too generous in your giving. It may be that you don’t feel that you’ve got enough financial education to make some sane decisions. But by doing that, it’ll help you know where you need to nudge your behavior to to get to going to the right direction. So that’s one initial response about knowing your relationship with money.
Amanda Barker: But some really practical tips now with the COVID lens on is focus on what you can control. And so look at your spending and what you’re spending and then prioritize what you’re spending on. And now’s a good time to pay down that everyday debt if you can, because interest rates are low. The other thing that I would suggest if you can, and it doesn’t matter how much, but create a savings habit. It can be a small amount, $10, it can be more than that, and then automate it. So from your everyday account, direct debit some money into another savings account and you sort of set and forget. And it will just accumulate savings for you.
Amanda Barker: And then the other tip I would give is set yourself a challenge. It’s a bit like the mindfulness that Georgia was talking about, but it could be daily, it could be weekly, it could be monthly, but learn something about financial education and live your capability. So set yourself a goal, whether it’s understanding what superannuation is and where you’re at with that, or whether it’s learning about investments or learning about what COVID relief packages there are that you could access from your bank, from your car finance, from your health insurance if you have one. But you need to have a plan and you need to sprint.
Cal Wilson: Great.
Santilla Chingaipe: And Amanda, just on that, I mean, obviously because of the pandemic, the government response in terms of stimulus support and packages, and that’s going to come to an end at some point. And as you outlined earlier, women and non-binary folk are probably going to be hit the hardest as a result of this pandemic. What happens then? What happens when that support is no longer available? I mean, where do these people go?
Amanda Barker: Yes. My first response is…So I know people who took out the opportunity to have their mortgage frozen for a period of time and it’s coming to the end of the six months and their situation hasn’t changed. They still, they haven’t found employment or they’re on reduced wage. And what I’ve asked and coached them to do is have the conversation, be proactive and have that conversation saying nothing has changed in my situation, how can you help me? And that’s the first thing. Because if we don’t ask… because what they’ll do automatically is that you’ve had your freeze and now we’re back to payments, but they have to ask you, “Are you comfortable going back to your payment?” And that’s when you have to ask them, “What are the options for me?”
Georgie Harman: Can I just jump in and add to that? Because I think there’s still…I mean, I work in the field of mental health. We’re still challenged by the stigma and taboo around mental health conditions. There is such higher stigma into the around financial health and talking about money. We formed a fantastic partnership with Financial Counselling Australia and Amanda talked about those free financial counsellors that are out there for anyone. So we formed a partnership and we’re really campaigning on people understanding that link between financial and mental health and creating referral pathways between our services and financial counseling services.
Georgie Harman: And the other really important thing that we’re doing is to actually train up the financial counsellors in sort of what to look out for in their clients. And also self care, to look after themselves as well. Because they’re dealing day in, day out with really stressed people. But they are absolutely hand in hand. And I think people don’t know about financial counsellors like they know about mental health counsellors. And they’re there and they’re actually ready to take your call. Again, no problem too big or small. They can help to kind of get a basic household budget together. They can help you negotiate with your bank. That’s what they’re there for. And we shouldn’t feel ashamed about actually reaching out for that support.
Cal Wilson: That’s such a great piece of information to have. Again, like you’re saying, reach out, ask the question. Because I think…I don’t know. I know for myself, if I don’t know what to do in a situation, I’ll just try and avoid the problem rather than solve the problem. So to be able to ask someone and go to someone who is trained in financial areas, but also is aware of the mental health aspect of it, is a…well done, what a great combo.
Georgie Harman: It’s a really powerful partnership, and that’s how we’ve got to work. If we’re going to solve these really complex social and economic problems, we’ve actually got to work together.
Amanda Barker: And the other thing if I could add is that all the financial institutions have now moved a long way. They all have special teams that to deal with people going through challenges, because it’s not unique anymore that people lose their jobs and people made redundant, but this is something we’ve never ever planned for. So I think that they are willing to have the conversation and it makes good economic sense for them to have the conversation and help their customer or client get back to and reset themselves, even though it’s going to take longer than they first thought.
Santilla Chingaipe: We’ve got a few questions coming in already. I think this is probably sort of for you Georgie, it’s from Jacqueline Wong and she’s asking, “I’ve been fairly positive and exercising a lot. I’m worried that I won’t be as social as before, even after restrictions ease. I live on my own and single and as friends start reaching out, I’m getting a bit anxious. Any tips on managing this transition back to being around people?” It’s a really good question.
Georgie Harman: It’s a great question. And it’s one that we’re hearing more and more actually, is this sense of fear around re-entry. So the first thing I’d say Jacqueline is that’s actually a really perfectly, perfectly normal feeling to be feeling right now. Whether that’s fear about going back into your workplace if you have a job, it’s going onto public transport, or even just as you say, kind of socialising again. Will people respect my distance, but their distance? Will people be wearing masks? And we know from studies that the people who’ve spent years or months in Antarctica, for example, when they come back into civilisation, they actually go through this feeling. So it’s a very scientifically validated feeling that you’re having.
Georgie Harman: So my tips feel would be actually just to kind of talk to your friends and family about it. Let them know how you’re feeling. Because I guarantee it, there’ll be many other people that will be feeling the same way or probably a bit nervous about talking about it. So I think sharing and talking openly about how you’re feeling so that people can both support you and actually share their own anxieties with you is really helpful. Again, pick up the phone, speak to one of our counselors, get some strategies from them, but just really be guided I think about how you’re feeling. You do not need to rush out and restart the life pre-COVID that you had. You can actually take baby steps. I think that that’s really important. And I think if you’re a manager of people, you need to be really conscious of how your staff might be feeling about it. So we actually need to be having this conversation. So that’s a great question to ask.
Cal Wilson: There’s another question here from Supriya who is asking how are women dealing with negotiating our money, your money, and my money in intimate partnerships at the time of financial stress? Which I think…I guess what I want to know from that as well is when everything is so in such a pressure cooker situation, when the world is kind of turned upside down, how do you start having a conversation with your partner at a time like this on finances?
Amanda Barker: If I might answer, Georgie might want to add. I think its important to normalise first of all that everybody’s in this situation and it’s so unique and there’s not a book there that’s going to tell you what’s right and wrong. But again, it is small steps. We have such an expectation that we’ve just got to have a problem solved straight away. And sometimes you’ve got to really break down what the problem is and find small steps of solutions, then the big solution. But it is about being brave and having the courage because you do need to have the conversation, but it’s about being a team and having that conversation together, not as opposing views.
Amanda Barker: So it may be, for example, I’ve got a view that we should be saving more money. The money we save, we should put it on our mortgage let’s just say. And my husband’s got a view that we should be putting it away for a holiday. But if we try and look at each other’s lenses, why’s he thinking that and why am I thinking this? It’s so different. But it’s not coming from a combative space. It’s coming from a we’re in it together. And just small steps. And normalise that everybody’s in this situation, it’s not unique to anyone.
Georgie Harman: Yeah. We’re seeing a lot of shifts and imbalance in relationships through our counseling service where you might be married, you might not be married, whatever your relationship status is, but one person loses their job and then the other person is the sole income earner. And that shifts the dynamic of a relationship.
Georgie Harman: …sole income earner. And that shifts the dynamic of a relationship and it can cause a lot of tension and stress. And we’ve had a lot of people raise that with us when they contact us. And again, I think Amanda is spot on. It’s actually about communication and whether or not you make the call to Beyond Blue together, you make the call to a financial counselor together. You actually negotiate the new boundaries that you have to form as a partnership around money and be really conscious of the power dynamics, whether they’re intended or unintended. To me, it’s really got to start with that conversation.
Santilla Chingaipe: Another question, which I feel like I can relate to is, I feel judged for not pursuing a higher earning career. How can I free myself of the shame? I think this is a question that possibly Amanda, you could address? This idea of you talked about the pink recession or the she-cession and women making up the casualised workforce. I certainly had thoughts early in the pandemic crisis, you know, I really should have finished my medicine degree because [crosstalk 00:34:11] would have been better than working in the creative arts. But what would you say to someone who’s just feeling that they might have made a wrong choice as a result of how this pandemic is impacting women?
Amanda Barker: It’s a really good question. And I’m sure a lot of us can relate to this. As a society, we mark success by achievement going up the ladder, I think, in our work. But I would look internally and say to myself, what does success look like for me? And if it’s managing a household and balancing homeschooling and I’m getting through that, and I’ve done that successful, then that’s good enough for me. If my friend chooses to have a really high powered career… And I know people in those sort of roles, and they’re not that happy to be honest. Because there’s a deficit that they feel that they’re not spending the time with their family that they want to.
Amanda Barker: So I would think it’s more of how you see yourself as opposed to…You can’t control what other people think, but you can control about how you respond to how people think. Now I know that’s not a straightforward answer and it takes a lot of personal work on yourself to not have others put expectations on you of what they think you should be doing, but it’s really define your own success. And it’s not necessarily around…it might not be around career.
Santilla Chingaipe: I understand that, but I’m also sort of wondering that if you’re watching the news, hearing, just listening to this conversation obviously, recognising that there are some careers that will be better off as a result of the pandemic than others and sitting there and having regrets. I mean, how do you work through those feelings of regret of kind of going, I made the choice and I should be comfortable with it, even though economically I might be punished for that choice? How does someone work through those feelings? Because they’d be legitimate feelings.
Amanda Barker: Yeah, absolutely. And Georgie might jump in there, but I think we need to have that conversation. Whether you can have it with somebody you feel safe with, or whether you’re having it with a counselor, you need to have that conversation to be able to externalise what it is that’s happening for you, and then find some solutions around that. And you don’t have to do it on your own. Georgie, have you got anything that you want to add to that?
Georgie Harman: It’s a really, it’s a great conversation. Because not just guilt, but also, and regret. But actually also work is actually…Good work actually defines who we are for many people. It’s more than actually just putting food on the table and how we decorate our apartments. It’s actually, it’s quite defining of who we are, rightly or wrongly. So when you actually either don’t feel fulfilled in your work, you regret not taking the career choices that you might have wanted to take at some point, or you indeed find yourself out of work, what are these things can actually be really challenging for our mental health. And akin to kind of grief and loss actually. But again, what are the things that keep…
Georgie Harman: For me, you know, I’m a bit of a Pollyanna, right? And I’ll openly admit it. But for me, what I hear time and time and time again from people who live with really complex mental health challenges, the things that give them nourishment, the things that make them feel like them they’re living their best lives are what I call a job or something meaningful to do, whether it’s paid or unpaid, somewhere safe to live, a home, and a date on a Saturday night, feeling loved and being able to give love to others. So for me, I have this fancy title. I earn good money. But the things that actually make me happy are my relationship, are my family, and feeling like I have a purpose in life.
Georgie Harman: So it sounds very Pollyannaish, especially for those who might be listening or watching who are struggling to put food on the table or do have those regrets. But I think that we have to come back to what we value and perhaps renegotiate with ourselves what we value. Because some of the most unhappy people I know are the people who have been pushed down the career choices that they thought they needed to do, they’re earing squillions of money. Is that a term? Squillions of money?
Cal Wilson: It is now.
Georgie Harman: And they’re really deeply unhappy and unfulfilled. And I would rather every time live a life where I feel like I’m making a contribution to my community. So I think it’s also about re-basing it in our minds as well.
Cal Wilson: Your question Santi really resonated with me as well with the…I was like, oh, in an apocalypse, it turns out we don’t need a comedian. We might need a doctor. We might need a survival, that sort of thing. So that really resonated. So I thank you for asking that question. Now we’re going to wrap up very shortly, but Amanda and Georgie, is there one thing that you want to communicate to everyone that’s here today? I’m putting you on the spot with that question.
Georgie Harman: Reach out for support early. It’s there, it’s free, it’s confidential, nothing to be ashamed about.
Amanda Barker: And I would add jump onto #crediblewomen, read what’s been said. It’s trending as the highest topic on Twitter in Australia. And it’s about women, lawyers, journalists, everyday women coming together as one united voice to talk about the economy and where women’s roles should be playing that. So jump on to #crediblewomen.
Cal Wilson: Great. Thank you so much Georgie and Amanda for joining us today. I feel very selfishly I have got a lot out of this. So yeah, thank you so much for your words and those links and things that are in the Q&A chat at the moment. And I think the Victoria Women’s Trust will have somewhere where you can also look for those things mentioned. Also I forgot to stay at start, thank you so much to my Auslan interpreters, Priscilla and Glenda who have joined us today as well. They’ve been amazing. So Santi, where would you recommend people go for more information?
Santilla Chingaipe: I would recommend that they check it our podcast, Money Power Freedom, hello? And they can listen to that anywhere where you get your podcasts. And obviously the Victorian Women’s Trust who ran today’s conversation and made this all possible. So thank you to them. Thank you to Bank Australia as well for supporting us. And Georgie and Amanda again, thank you for joining us and for the wonderful advice and tips. And Georgie, I hear you about the meditation. I’m a big proponent for meditation. It is life changing, so thank you.
Cal Wilson: Great, thank you so much. And thanks to everyone that’s joined us today. That’s really great that you’re here. So this event was hosted by the Victorian Women’s Trust, proudly supported by Bank Australia, the bank with clean money. Santi, it’s been wonderful to see your face again, eve though we’re not within hugging distance.
Santilla Chingaipe: No. But I feel like I can hug you kind of.
Cal Wilson: Blow kisses, which is safe over screen, but not in person. Thank you so much, everyone who participated in thank you for Victorian Women’s Trust for putting this whole shebang together. And now I would like to leave in the traditional way that anyone over 40 leaves something to do with technology, I’m going to do my traditional-
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