Penny Miller: Living her purpose

Photo of a woman with light hair, wearing a blue top. She is smiling at the camera.
Penny Miller always knew she wanted to work with people and after finishing school a university open day sparked her interest in speech pathology.

After completing her undergraduate degree she then headed to regional Australia to work as a practitioner – an experience she attributes her resourcefulness to:

“I worked across the government, not-for-profit and private sectors in various regional areas but in every role I was often the sole practitioner so I needed to make the most of my creativity and resourcefulness as supports weren’t just at my fingertips,” explains Penny.

“If we wanted to support our clients and have an impact we needed to think a little differently about what we had available to us. I had to go and find the resources and the people I needed.”

Penny’s career journey has since led her to specialise in supporting people with disability, with much of her experience gained in early intervention and working with people with autism.

She has also completed a Masters in Inclusive Education and now works at Adelaide-based Novita , one of South Australia’s largest disability service organisations supporting children, young people and adults.

Over the six years Penny has worked at Novita, her career transition from client facing speech pathology to a service development role – where she works on how best Novita can structure their services and develop their people – led her to start considering how she could add to her own knowledge bank and network in the sector.

“I wanted to develop and combine my clinical and business mindset and I had been following Centre for Social Impact for a number of years. I decided to look into studying and the scholarships available.”

Fast forward to 2019 and Penny’s passion for lifelong learning will see her completing a Graduate Certificate in Social Impact with the Centre for Social Impact UNSW at the end of the year, which she chose to study 100% online to accommodate her family commitments and developing career.

Penny was also the recipient of a $5,000 UNSW scholarship which has helped her both financially and also in enabling her to validate and develop her own contribution to the community she lives and works in.

“The program shadows my work life and a lot of the topics are very reflective. It’s made me realise that speech pathologists also have a substantial social impact in the work we do, but we don’t always see it that way as a practitioners.

“The course hasn’t been just knowledge growth for me – it’s also been personal reflective growth too. It’s been so empowering, particularly because of the people I have met through the program. Even though the participants are all so different – from CEOs to Project Managers, and everything in between - our experience and core purpose is shared.”