In this week’s episode, Geoff is talking to Benigne Kalikela who was a nominee in the 2022 7NEWS Young Achiever Awards for South Australia.
Benigne started working in the health industry providing care to the elderly across day and night. She grew to love her job and also decided to pursue tertiary education at the University of Adelaide to complement what she does at work.
Seeing some of the gaps with her work, she later decided to start her own service provider with individually tailored plan to harness their full autonomy and enjoy life regardless or the circumstances or disability.
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Welcome to the inspirational Australians podcast with a chat to people, making a difference in their communities and in the lives of others. And here is your host for today. Geoff Griffin.
Welcome to the inspirational Australians podcast stories of inspiring achievements and community contribution. Every week we will celebrate an award program category winner will find us. We hope you’ll be inspired and encouraged to know that Australia is in good hands, together with our corporate partners and not for profit partners, awards, Australia. Showcase ordinary people from right across Australia are doing extraordinary things. If you enjoy hearing the stories of our inspirational Australians, please subscribe. Write us and review us. We really appreciate it. Our inspirational podcast guest today is a director of independent living king. I’ll say it’s make a difference in the lives of people living with mental health, difficulties and disabilities. Bennett, welcome to the podcast. It’s great to have you.
Thank you so much. I’m privileged to be on here.
What you do is so amazing, subsequently, super excited to talk with you today to learn a bit more about you and your career, and of course, independent living as well. Benigne, can you tell us a bit about how your career started and how it led you to independent living to?
Yeah, absolutely. So I graduated high School and went straight into studying a certificate of individual support and then went into aged care work. So I did that for a few years and it really, really led me to thinking about Helping people create and live a life of quality. Because I saw how many clients that we had that wanted to really do a lot more with their life. But really because we were understaffed and there just wasn’t many opportunities. So I decided to move along and I went in to work for other community Services. And that itself was really, really draining for me because I saw that a lot of these services were really big and they weren’t very personal with their clients. You know, you had directors up on the board and they weren’t really, there was not personal touch with clients. And so I decided I was going to stop business planning and, you know, create something that was really personal with clients. And so I began to do that, I began to network, I began to go out the community and figure out how I could really do it and make it really personal. So I did that and I was really, really careful in the way I structured everything because I wanted to make sure that clients and participants were the centre of everything that I did, and that it was really personal. And that it was different from everything I had seen in my career. So yeah, I did that. And that’s why, really independent living came from.
That’s awesome. Why specifically mental health difficulties and disability services?
Oh, because I was always really, really passionate about psychology, mental health. It’s not really spoken about in my community. So I really, really wanted to just specialize in this field and really make it my focus. I was also studying at that time I was studying health and medical sciences at University and now I’ve actually transferred and I’ve done my diploma in counselling. So I really wanted to make that my specific. And I saw that that was really a need in the community and yeah, so I thought I would launch that and do it through independent living care.
It’s brilliant. You’ve taken your learnings from University, put it into practical use to benefit and help others. And I think that’s absolutely brilliant. What influenced why I was saying was structures?
Well, I’m Christian. So a lot of my beliefs come from the Christian background that I have. So I didn’t like the way I structured everything. I always believed that everything I should do is should be done with love. And so I told my services to be done with love with. I was a risk, but I was organizing. I incorporated love into whether I was a day program. I was organizing corporate lobbying to whether it was just a direct service that I was doing on the support work. I love it. And so it was a value that I held right across the organization within staff, within management to do everything with love. And I also incorporate something called maslow’s hierarchy of needs. And I believe that every participant should work towards being self-actualized. And so I incorporated that within my organization within the way I molded everything so that we should help our participants or any of our clients who engage in our services to actually become self-actualized regardless of their disability, mental health. And so really identifying that the mental health or that disability doesn’t actually limit what they can do or the life that they can live.
It sounds to me like every person that needs support and help every loved one or someone who needs support and help should be looking at I’ll say, because it is the surely the backbone of how our lives should be full of love and kindness. And if we had more of that in the world, we probably wouldn’t see the same problems that we’re faced with across the globe. So I commend you on your purpose and your values, which are really fantastic. How many people would you say that you have already supported through?
we’ve supported perhaps around fifty people already. We’ve had so much great feedback. We’ve had comments on how much their lives have changed. We’ve had staff just absolutely step into confidence and exceed of their careers. It’s just changed so many people’s lives and just every day, seeing messages from, you know, participants and even staff on how this service is so unique is just, it’s incredible. It’s really, really incredible.
So many of the people that you work with are ongoing Because of a need doesn’t change. It doesn’t matter how well you provide. It’s the need is always, there is stopped. When did you start? ILC?
So ILC actually just two years old. So two years ago we started ILC, we’ve just had our little birthday. It was actually a few days before that. What’s not that we are
Yeah, thank you.
That’s awesome and it was great that you could come along and be presented on stage for your work. And I know you took a business support package as well, which was very calming, gracious to be, to support the awards financially in that way. And of course, that was all post judging and was not related in any way, No insights or influence on that judging because that was all done well after that. So thank you for doing that. We really appreciate you tonight. I think to give our listeners a sense of what’s in your heart to then tonight that the two extra tickets to two complimentary tickets that you’re entitled to with that business support package back so that we were able to give those forward for sell those tickets. So I thank you for making that difference and as I say it says a lot about your heart and the person that you are. So thank you for. I appreciate you doing that.
No worries. Like I said everything here, I wouldn’t do. ILC is would love. So
yeah, well it’s not a bad to have what’s the average? I try to feel just all over the place. It’s such a broad range of people that getting support.
We’ve got pretty much all ages. We start from eighteen all the way up to eighty five. A lot of our participants are sitting in the fifty five to seventy five age range. And you know, you’re meeting people of different ages, different problems and it’s, it’s important that we have that tailored support to each person. Yeah.
Yeah. Well it must be difficult. Managing people who are eighteen compared to eighty five, as you say, because it would be a different type of support that you would need to provide. What, what’s the geographic spread of the services you provide? Where is your reach?
Also we service right from the South to the North, right across Adelaide. When people initially give us referrals, we look at where our support workers or staff are located and we bring a team right together. And yeah, it’s pretty much, it’s tailored to each person regardless of where they are, how old they are, their race gender. It’s. It’s all tailored in the package that we provide Them.
Yeah. Are I specifically designed packages or the basic concepts of the package and then you just add this and that for the individual clients.
So initially we’ve got basic principles, basic concepts, and then as we go, we add and we change things around accordingly.
So what are the main services within your packages?
Yep. So we do day programs, window counselling. We do support work and we do respite services.
Yeah, it’s fairly comprehensive. All the essential services as well.
How many mentioned support work? Yeah, yeah. Okay.
Yeah. So what does that involve?
So support work involves going out into the community, Helping participants with their day to day life transport, cleaning, cooking, Helping participants to engage with other people going out for coffee, meeting new friends. It really just helps participants get through the day to day life. Just that basic need of maslow’s hierarchy of need that is really fulfilled in that category.
Helping people to live their best possible lives. That’s right. And being guides in the community is so important. And the fact that the service that you provide, how many staff do you have, and I know that you have varied guides in elc. So how many people do you have that support you and what’s your role?
So we’ve got about thirty people involved in our staff team and my role is really to be part of the team to help where I can help to help coordinate to help manage to make sure everything is just going smoothly and rolling smoothly. Yeah,
yeah, I get out to see the clients as well.
Yeah, I go out my goal every day is to at least do two participants each day to make sure I’m going out. Seeing Them having that personal touch with each participant if they’re getting Them flowers. If it’s a birthday getting Them a birthday card, whether it’s been personal with
Them, that last thing that you talked about. Yeah. Well, I think that’s really important because you get a direct connection with the services, how they’re impacting, how they might need to be tweaked or many slightly differently, better or differently. So that’s really important. So I’m really excited to hear that you actually, and I’m sure potential clients would be really pleased to know that the boss is out there, seeing how it sounds and how you package your services impact the people you work with. What do you reckon is part of your service that you provide that sets you apart from others who provide services?
So really it’s the laugh and it’s the fact that we’re personal. I know there’s a lot of big organisations who are so big that everything just gets out of hand. As for us, we’re really small. We want to stay small. We want to, you know, be personal. So every participant can get a phone call during the day to see how they’re going. It’s so every participant can, you know, go out and actually do the things that they enjoy because we’re not understaffed. And because we’re doing what we actually have the capacity to do, it’s not it’s, it’s because we’re, yeah that’s, I’ll sleep out there. Yeah,
yeah. Well I think that’s certainly a point of difference. And if I was looking for support for a loved one or myself, I think all of those attributes would be right at the top of my, my list and things that I want to say. You know, congratulation on, being successful in a short period of time. We talked about at the awards must have been a thrill to be nominated for the seven huge chamber awards.
It definitely was
and as I mentioned, he purchased a package to support the awards. So we really appreciate that. What do you remember most about the awards night in May? Was this something that grabbed your attention and stuck with you about the awards night in May? You
know, I just felt that that was night was really, really inspiring. Just hearing what a lot of these young people were doing and just hearing their stories and how much that doing for the community. It just, it really inspired me. You know, I went home and I saw that. I thought to myself wow, you know, there was a power, there was a boost in what I was doing as well to do better because there’s a lot of other young people who are just doing great things. It was really encouraging and just inspiring. Altogether.
That’s probably the common theme we hear from people was how inspiring it is also to know that there are other young people like yourself who are battling a way to make a difference. And really, and it’s inspiring to know that there are others like you who are just working your way to make a difference as well in the community. So thank you to that seven years young achiever awards will be opening in September. But the community achievement awards are open right now. And if anybody knows someone achieving great results, head to awards Australia dot com and the community achievement award page for your state. And have a look whether you still think that might be suitable for someone, you know, or give us a call the office. It’s kind of the only place to talk through what category twenty, whether we feel that the person you’re talking about is appropriate. And of course, every single person is relevant, making a difference, a smile to someone who needs it, and we never know what people have been through in that day or week makes a difference. We would love to hear from anybody who wants to nominate someone, but Benigne like everybody, you must feel the daily press should up from time to time. How do you stay motivated and recharge? As you transition through the day to day life of your business?
I just feel that it’s always important for me to self-regulate. I do that through prayer, but I also do that through journaling. I’m also writing a book. Many people don’t know it. I think that’s an expression of really getting out what’s on my chest and being able to teach others. It’s always been something that I love doing it away from that I self-regulate. So those are really the four main things that really help me in terms of self regulating and starting fresh.
Yeah, I think that’s it’s good advice. Is there anything else that I’ll say that you want to tell us about your work? What are some of the challenges or highlights for you as well?
Well, some of the highlights is I started the business when I was nineteen.
Very, very daunting for me, particularly because it’s an industry where there’s a lot of older people. It felt very competitive. It felt that times I was looking it up, I was being looked down upon. So that was really, really hard, but I always just showed up how I wanted to be perceived and I always prayed for confidence and continued to just self develop and continue to just learn and read and understand the industry also. Yeah, that’s one of my biggest highlights. I started the business when I was nineteen
and you’re also writing a book. Yes. Tell us about that.
Yep. So my book is called breaking into freedom. It launches in November. It’s really about my healing journey, my personal journey, my business journey incorporates a lot of different aspects of my life on how I’ve sort of been set free in terms of my mindset. I think growing up, I was quite, I knew what I was called to do a lot more, but I didn’t really know how to go about doing it. So this book is really to inspire anyone who has maybe an idea or something they want to do to just break out of it and to just do it and to take the risk. And it’s really to help people who are on healing journeys to heal. So it’s a lot of different concepts.
Awesome. How do we get hold of your book when it comes out in November?
So there’s going to be a pre-order link that’s going to be available. That’s going to be available on my Instagram and Facebook even on my website for ILC, so people will be able to place an order there.
Fantastic. Well, stay tuned everybody. What’s something we might not know about you? What’s something quirky or interesting about you personally, we might not know That you’re happy to share with us of course.
So I have nine other siblings. Wow. So I’m the eldest of all of those siblings. Yes. So it’s really embedded leadership in me. I’ve grown up with I’ve had to, you know, almost be like a mother. Yeah. So that’s, that’s pretty quirky.
You’re probably pretty caring as well. I guess.
Yeah. Yeah, yeah. You
need to be to help your family be organised. That’s a lot of kids.
Yeah. It is a lot of kids. Yeah.
What do you think the world needs more of right now?
I think the world needs more people who ideals caring. People who are just full of love. I think more than ever that people need to be loved. Because we’ve just seen just so much happen within the last few years. So much opinions, so much negative energy in the world. I think the world is at a place where we just need to love with one another. Just be kind. And maybe even if there’s someone you haven’t heard from in a long time ring Them up, see how they’re going. Check up on Them. Them a nice little send Them flowers. I think the world needs a lot more people full of love and people who are caring
that very trade with your business only been to two years old in May. And you are so young. Are there any words of wisdom and being young is not a bad thing. It’s amazing. It’s fantastic. Are there any words of wisdom that you would offer people who want to start something up? Who are looking to tackle their trains, but don’t have the confidence?
I think my words of wisdom are everyone that you see either on the Internet on TV or anywhere else that you think are great. They started somewhere. So don’t make it a limit that you can’t start, or you have to be at their level to stop. They started somewhere so always stopped. Have people around you who can consult you and people who you can go to for information because they will be the ones who will help you get started and they will help you take whatever it is you have in mind. If it’s the idea they will help you to Excel and really move along very well.
And good advice. Someone once told me that I’ve never forgot when someone said to Them, you’re lucky. And they said, yeah, it’s funny how the harder I work. The luckier I get,
And I’m sure there have been many times when things haven’t gone right for you or you could have given up or thought. This is too hard because with regulations and everything in the industry that you are involved will be very difficult. So how do you keep going, what drives you motivates you to keep going when times are tough?
Well I pray, I just pray that you know, because I’m Christian, I just pray that God will just help me through this. We call it the wilderness season, that God would just help me through this wilderness season and now I’m sick knowledge. If it’s something that’s in the industry that’s changed, I’ll stick knowledge. I’ll get a consultant maybe to help me. I will always speak words of life over myself and over my organization. Yeah. Yeah, I
think it’s, it’s got to be matter for every person to keep persisting to never give up the tragedy. And I think so often of people who take their own lives because they’re in such despair, they don’t see a way forward. But things change tomorrow might be different to today. But we’re really talking three months might be more different to today. Everything changes and we have the opportunity to change too, and I just get so sad and but the heartache that families have to go through because someone’s life because they can’t see a way forward. Yeah. You know, and as you said, talk to someone, whether it’s through prayer, as a Christian or through your friends or through whatever Avenue it has to take to get comfort that it’s so important to do this. That’s what’s so. So important, particularly if you are someone who has cancer, you know, and I see young people we see so often in their lives are heading towards the end. And I think that we give everything to have another opportunity so to speak strong. Yeah.
Yeah. More than ever, the world is broken and the reality is we actually live in a broken world. And I actually felt a while ago to just make a contribution to actually bring wholeness in the world. And that’s why I wanted to, you know, move in and started counselling, and to eventually at some point, be able to build a group of counsellors or even allied health professionals to actually bring wholeness to the world. Yeah.
Is there anything else about the Bible say that you want to talk about or make people aware of? Yeah, sure. Are you taking on new clients? So what would you suggest when you’ve given us a lot of information? How can people find you, and is there anything else that you want to talk about in terms of oil, sea oil, dispersant, we haven’t heard a lot about your history might mean you can tell us about I know you only started when you’re nineteen, when did you go straight into the business enough to start forty eight questions, all in one, sorry about that. Did you go straight into the business from your tertiary education or high School?
So I did a little bit of qualifications on the side to make sure I was up to date with standards. I was always learning, I was always reading, I was always making sure I was in order. And of course, I’ll say that again, know that of course I was always, you know, making shells hiring like a coach or a consultant to really walk me through what I wanted to achieve. So I was always around people who were upskilling me and Helping me to really learn and to step into that confidence. So an otherwise independent is very multicultural. We work with a whole wide range of people, different race, different gender. We’re very open to a lot of different people other than we actually look past capacity. So we’re taking on a lot of different referrals as well. So yeah, you can find us on WW dot independent living can accommodate you. Instagram handle is independent living care on Facebook, independent living care India. If you wanted to connect with me personally, I’m opening on Instagram and building a chemical on Facebook on LinkedIn.
Fantastic. Well, I’m sure you got a lot of followers because you’re very motivational and inspirational. Young woman and a great role model for young women, but old people, young men, young women, old people, of someone who’s got so much drive and Passion to give to others. And you’ve been able to make that your business, which is even a bonus, because you can help people throughout your day and guys in your work class, and I’m sure that carries into your personal life as well. You do something with such Passion, nine to five. So congratulations to you. I think you’re as I say such an inspiration for everybody.
Thank you so much. So
when you talk to us about where your listeners can connect and how they might get involved, I would say as well, is there any, anything else you want to add about some of your personal activities or about it or say that you want to share with us before we finish off.
Yes. So I also, I’m quite interested in real Estate. So my parents real estate portfolio that they run, they sort of have like a business background as well. So I, in my free time, I’ll look at different houses. I’ll look at different buildings and things like that. So yeah, I’m quite interested in real estate and I’m hoping to one day be able to incorporate that into ILC to the specialised disability homes that are launching in the India scheme. Yeah,
that’s brilliant. So you’re a woman of many talents, right. I think that’s that’s absolutely brilliant. So there’s something else within that that’s, that’s fantastic. And I think it is an area that is worth following. And some people say the share market at this very moment. So that’s a good side. Passion and you’re setting spend time. And I kind of mentioned that a lot, but nonetheless, nonetheless, that’s fantastic. Well, Benigne , it’s been an Absolute privilege and a pleasure to talk with you today. You’re a real champion, as I say, an inspiration for everybody, me included. And you make a real difference in the lives of a lot of people. So thank you so much for taking the time to check with me today and for all you do in the community.
Thank you so much for having me on the show.
Absolute pleasure. Keep on keeping on, keep making a difference. And I hope everybody’s enjoyed the chat with as much as I have today. As we start to think about the rest of twenty twenty two, I encourage everybody to be kind to be patient with people. It’s been a very tough few years as we know. So until next week, stay safe. Be kind and keep inspiring because together we make a difference. I hope you enjoyed today’s interview as much as I had. We would love you to subscribe to our podcast. You won’t miss an episode. Join us each week as we talk with ordinary Australians shaping extraordinary things. Did you know that awards Australia is a family owned business that proudly makes a difference in the lives of those that make a difference province? And we thank our corporate not for profit partners for making our programs possible. Do you know someone that’s making a difference? Well, maybe your business might like to sponsor an award. Contact us throughout Instagram page, inspirational dot Australians, or head to our website, awards Australia dot com. Would be great if you could share the site with your network. Because who doesn’t like a good news story. Please write and review us. We would really love to hear your thoughts until next week. Stay safe. And remember together we make a difference.