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Panda Mick: faith and hope – and giving to those in need


“It was a way to shift the focus from being anxious and worried into something positive. We couldn’t control what was happening out in the world but we could empower ourselves to make a difference.”


The cover of Panda Mick .

I was straight out of high school when I started at ANZ. My first role was in the Broker Enquiries Line team. I did that for a couple of years before moving into Mortgage Credit Assessment where I’ve been ever since.


Having moved through various positions, I’m now a Senior Credit Assessor and I’m very passionate about my job. I enjoy helping people achieve their dreams, whether it’s buying their first home or an investment property – it’s a good feeling.


My career at ANZ has provided me with some amazing experiences – I went overseas and worked in India for a couple of months. At the time, my husband flew over to visit me and when we arrived back in Australia fell pregnant with my eldest son Manuel.


Live avidly, with no regrets


I’ve faced some major health challenges in recent years -  2017 was the year I was diagnosed with bowel cancer. I had a major operation and then received chemotherapy for three months before returning to work.


Overcoming that major life challenge with the support of my family has really taught me to strive to live avidly, with no regrets.


Catherine with her family. Manuel (8), Leo (5) and husband, Mario.


Shifting the focus during lockdown


It was at the height of the second wave of COVID-19 cases in Victoria (when we were in strict lockdown) that the idea of writing a children’s book was born.


Not unlike everyone else, we worried about what was happening in the world and felt the uncertainty about what lay ahead.


Reading books to the children at bedtime is routine in our household and we wanted to give them comfort and reassurance around the thing that was most relevant at that point in time.


Although we had our own challenges (such as working from home and home schooling) we felt very fortunate – we had our health and we still had our jobs. It was a way to shift the focus from being anxious and worried into something positive. We couldn’t control what was happening out in the world but we could empower ourselves to make a difference.


The story of Panda Mick


Mick the Panda’s world gets turned upside down when the virus disrupts his hometown. He can no longer do the things he normally enjoys such as visiting his friends, going to school and travelling.


His mother helps him learn healthy hygiene habits and tries to shift his focus from worrying about the things he can’t control to coming up with ways to help him through the difficult time.


It’s a story about faith and hope. There is a plan that will fix the problem but it will take time.

Pages from Panda Mick.


A family affair


Evenings and weekends which would normally be taken up with social gatherings, parties or extracurricular activities were spent working on the book. It was a family passion project where everyone had a part to play – my sister-in-law, a graphic designer by trade, illustrated the book as well as designing the website, my husband built the website, and even my youngest son piped in with some design advice by suggesting Panda Mick’s mask should be blue, not grey.


Author and illustrator: Catherine with her sister-in-law, Caroline.


More to give


Getting Panda Mick off the ground and out into the world was a huge achievement for us as a family but I still felt there was more to give. I specifically chose Foodbank as the charity to work with mainly because I knew they were a charity partner of ANZ and also it was probably most relevant to what was happening at the time – people were losing their jobs which could equal potential loss of the most basic necessity: food.


Right away (I think it may have been a week after I wrote the book) I made contact with them and made the agreement to make a donation every month. Every hard cover we sell enables Foodbank to provide four meals and every paperback we sell allows them to provide three meals to people in need. To date, I believe the number is more than 900 meals provided.


Multiplying the kindness


When I was promoting Panda Mick through Yammer, our internal ANZ social channel, someone from ANZ’s workplace giving program directly contacted me to suggest ANZ could possibly add to the donation.


We’re still working through the logistics of it but it just goes to show the power of kindness.



Panda Mick can be purchased by visiting https://pandamick.com.au



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