Louise Smith, Toughlove - 5th February 2007
Man Australia continues to interview some of Australia's
greatest social and community entrepreneurs. The latest
is Louise Smith who we met via our association with
am a wife and mother who has been involved in the
clerical side of the workforce ever since commencing
employment in 1973. For the last few years I have
become involved with another Toughlover who has a
company called "Demand Flow Intelligence",
and I work as one of their marketing assistants. With
the generous help of this organisation, we are presently
doing a marketing campaign for an Information evening
for professionals on the north side of Sydney as a
pilot program. If all goes well we will expand this
to other areas.
did Toughlove come about?
came into been in 1972 when David & Phyllis York
in America had issues with one of their daughters.
The Yorks were well regarded family counselors but
had significant difficulties in handling their wayward
daughter. The daughter ended up in jail after robbing
a pusher & various other unacceptable deeds. The
York's friends took it upon themselves to visit the
daughter and then report back as to how she was doing.
This led to the birth of the Toughlove Program, which
has subsequently become an international organization.
have four children, who were all aware that we were
attending Toughlove meetings on a weekly basis. Initially
they chose to lampoon Toughlove, giving it pet names,
such as; "Easy Hate", "The Wacko cult
group", and so on. How they viewed Toughlove
wasn't too relevant to me as I knew that, without
this valuable organistation and the support we received,
I am sure we wouldn't be in the great position we
are today. Toughlove runs a 1300 phone line service,
for which I am one of the volunteers. On odd occasions
my kids have taken messages so I could call back.
I was a bit slow one day in getting to the phone and
my daughter took the call - what I overheard her say
almost knocked me sideways. When asked if the program
worked, she replied: "I had the Toughlove stuff
used on me and I can tell you I didn't like it, but
it does work!". The caller was so impressed that
when I returned her call she had no hesitation in
joining a group.
some of the biggest challenges you have overcome?
9 years we were trying to handle a drug addiction
issue with two of our sons. I am talking chronic,
multiple daily users and dealing. Thousands of dollars
have gone missing over the years, goods stolen and
pawned, just so they could get another hit. Our valuables
had to be locked in our bedroom or storage room under
the house. My cash and mobile phone had to be carried
on my body at all times. Property damage was a big
issue as was lying and foul language. I had to resign
from work as I found that I was making errors and
couldn't concentrate. Most days on my way to work
I had to pull over to the side of the road to be sick
as my tummy was a rumbling mess. My first meeting
at Toughlove was an absolute relief. I had finally
found something where I could do the work to improve
my situation and get the most unbelievable support.
I have made life long friends, I have regained my
confidence, my home, my life and personal power. Paradoxically,
I now thank my kids for their behaviours as they have
ultimately lead me into a new career I would have
never previously considered; I am studying for my
Diploma in Counseling with the intention of specializing
in adolescent addiction. My kids have now been off
drugs and alcohol sober for 18 months and I am immensely
proud of them because they have put in the hard yards.
media coverage have you achieved to date?
has fallen into the media spotlight in the past 18
months and I have had a number of interviews with
Today, Today Tonight, Bill Crews on 2GB, national
magazines and local newspapers. We are informing the
public about this essential organization, what we
do and who we are so that other parents become aware
they are not alone in dealing with their kids. We
have a couple of interviews that are coming up in
the next 3 months, "Joy's World" on SBS
TVS 31 and "That's Life" magazine. Now we
are a registered charity, we are entering into the
world of corporate sponsorship to raise the funds
we need to conduct weekend workshops for members and
to undertake advertising campaigns to raise awareness.
All of these exercises and many more projects are
all organized and run by volunteers.
have your biggest supporters been?
have a couple of people, in particular, to thank for
where I am today. Firstly Brian Chapman, now retired
from Toughlove, who was my trainer. He has had, and
still has, great input and guidance to my life. When
Brian first approached me to become a Toughlove Representative,
I don't think he quite realised the monster he was
creating. Secondly, I would like to thanks my kids
for without them I would never have received the 'gift
of change' that they have bestowed upon me.
have two simple sayings that help to keep me focused;
"The universe doesn't send you anything it knows
you cannot cope with", and "If it doesn't
kill you it will only make you stronger".
do you do to relax?
Relax? I don't think I know the meaning of that word!
I have two speeds, flat out and turbo-charged! My
interests include riding around the country with my
husband on our Harleys with a terrific Harley Owners
Group called the "Harbourside Chapter".
As they say "Ride hard, party hard!"
note: What fantastic work Louise is doing. I urge
you to support Toughlove. Telephone enquires to 1300
31 Community TV
and Community Entrepreneurs