Many politicians argue that they have God on their side, but these days former NSW minister Reba Meagher actually does, writes Jordan Baker.
Politicians can struggle to reinvent themselves after a career in the public eye — their reputations have taken a battering and their main qualifications are arguing across a dispatch box and giving their opinion. Yet, every now and then, someone manages.
Former NSW Health Minister Reba Meagher quit the scandal-plagued state Labor government in 2008. She has re-emerged as the chief executive of the Sisters of Charity Foundation, which invests in programs to help the needy.
"It's a chance to make a contribution, but from a supportive environment rather than a combative one," Reba, 43, tells The Weekly. "Being able to get amongst it without the vitriol of politics is refreshing."
Instead of being surrounded by adversaries, she shares an office with Sisters Laureen, Chris and Enid, who exude altruism and serenity.
"There isn't the same amount of swearing, put it that way," Reba says.
Rather than fight for every reform and argue for every dollar, Reba has the sisters' support in using the experience she gained in health and community services to identify and develop worthy projects.
"It's not really the radical change in direction for me that it may appear," she says. "Being a member of parliament is predominantly about community service. It's about wanting to help people.
"That's the motivating force for most of the people I know in politics and that's fundamental to the foundation's work as well."
When she is not working with the Sisters of Charity, Reba is looking after her 16-month-old son, Louie, who brings a joy to her life she couldn't imagine during her more than 20 years in politics.
"Now I have a great work-life balance," she says. "I have the opportunity to make a contribution to the community and still savour all the joys of family life. I love waking up in the morning to the sound of my gorgeous little boy in the next room singing to himself."
Read more of this story in the May issue of The Australian Women's Weekly.