The Asbestos Diseases Society of South Australia

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Support Services: Social Work

Penny Jacomos B.A.Soc.Wk.,MA(SS) – SOCIAL WORKER

Penny Jacomos

In June 2005 Penny was involved in setting up the Asbestos Diseases Society of South Australia. Her role was to provide a social work and counselling service to the victims of asbestos related diseases and their family care givers and bereaved relatives.

By way of background Penny grew up in a farming community on the Yorke Peninsula, South Australia. She attended Maitland Area School, before matriculating at Norwood High School in Adelaide. She completed a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work in 1978. Before completing her degree, she took a year off and taught three children correspondence lessons and School of the Air on a sheep station near Broken Hill in 1977.

Penny has worked for over 33 years as a Social Worker in Adelaide, primarily in aged care and rehabilitation, in both the public and private sectors as well as in the community service sector.

In the late 1990’s she spent a year working in the respiratory ward at the Repatriation General Hospital. During this time she gained some experience in assisting those suffering asbestos related diseases.

Penny has worked in a variety of community settings, including Domiciliary Care, Carer Support and Respite Centre, Aged Care Assessment Team and a slow stream rehabilitation unit in an aged care facility. She has had involvement with cardiac rehabilitation at two private hospitals in Adelaide, delivering the stress management lectures. Currently, she also provides a part-time social work service within an allied health team in a day therapy centre, run by local government.

Social workers work with individuals, families, groups and communities to effect change. This is defined in the internationally recognised definition of Social Workers and the International Association of the School’s of Social Work.

Penny’s role is to facilitate the well being of the client and help improve their quality of life as much as possible. A significant component of her work is working with and recognising loss and grief issues and the lifestyle changes that go with having an asbestos related condition. This might take the form of individual counselling, providing information, and linkage to other community services and advocacy work.

After many years studying and researching asbestos disease victims, Penny, on 15th December 2011 graduated with her Masters of Arts in the Social and Behavioural Sciences Faculty in the School of Social Work at Flinders University. Her Thesis was titled :

"An exploration of the social experience of people diagnosed with an asbestos related disease including mesothelioma and their family caregivers."

Penny has already presented her work at one international conference and several national conferences held in Australia.

Penny is a Member of the AASW (Australian Association of Social Workers) and OSWA (Australian Oncology Social Work) and also attends meetings of the SA Asbestos Coalition.