Western Australia

True Stories: Mim Kuipers – Finding work for individuals, with benefits for the whole community

Mim is an Employment Broker with My Place Foundation in Busselton, South West WA

mim-k1

I didn’t intend to create a career for myself in the disability sector, but initially “fell” into it when I started doing weekend respite with a young lady in my own home. She was a delight to have, and it piqued my interest. I was also extremely impressed with My Place Foundation, and their values and high regard for their clients and staff. My background is retail management, small business owner, and sales and marketing. I didn’t ever consider that these skills would lead me into the disability sector; however my current employment fits perfectly with these skills.

The work I do:
I find employment or help individuals with disability to set up their own small enterprise, according to their interests and passions. Many individuals with disability have never been afforded the opportunity to work, due to perhaps not fitting well with existing employment pathways, or having been deemed not capable of working. The “My Work” programme (formerly Open Workforce), which My Place Foundation in WA has set up, was initially set up as a pilot project to show that it is a very viable option for people with disability to work. They can and often want to work, and if we can approach this with creativity and finesse we can make it happen.

What I value most about my role:
The employment programme “My Work” has been an incredible platform to educate and inspire the broader community to consider how they can be instrumental in bringing about positive change for individuals who have often been pushed aside. Finding employment roles in local businesses for individuals with disability has shown the broader community what is possible when we start to think and act more inclusively, and that it not only has a great impact on the person gaining employment but also the staff, and others around them. It is often said that the person with disability, brings something uniquely wonderful to the workplace that no one else could. Most of our participants have never had a paid role before. To be earning a wage for the first time in their lives, gives such a sense of pride.
Please click on this link to see some of our participants in their newfound work places.

How the NDIS changed the way I do things
NDIS has given people the opportunity to make more choices, and the ability to pursue their interests and goals in a much more viable way than ever before. Employment is certainly something that can and is chosen for individuals to pursue.

My Employer:
My Place Foundation are a disability service provider in Western Australia, who have always been committed to providing individualised and flexible service according to a person’s unique needs. They are very versatile, and provide an array of different supports. It has been an honour to have been employed by such a forward thinking organisation, who have the highest integrity.

 www.myplace.org.au/

 

True Stories: Jennifer Colorado – Making myself useful

Jennifer Colorado

The first time I came across people with a disability was when I was training to be a teacher in my home country of Colombia. I was on a teaching practical and there were three boys with special needs in the class. They were so lovely and showed me that there were so many different people in the world, so I thought what not work with people with a disability?

I’ve been in Australia for over five years now and at first I worked in a nursing home. But I found it too emotional and got very sad working with people who waited for friends and family to visit day in and day out, yet they rarely received visitors. I found a new role working with people with Alzheimer’s disease, which I enjoyed, but wanted a permanent position. I saw that Senses Foundation was advertising and applied to work with them. I have been there as a Support Worker ever since.

Every day is completely different at Senses. You never know what is going to happen and can’t expect anything in particular. You have to be flexible. My favourite thing about my role is the clients. They are absolutely amazing and achieve so much so often. I take great joy in seeing them achieve. As a Support Worker I am assisting people with vision impairment and with a disability aged 16 and over. Working with teenagers right through to seniors means I have to work out different things for people of all ages to try because it’s rare for someone who is 16 to like the same things as someone who is 70! Developing new routines and activities is important because it helps cultivate new skills and experience new things.

The people I have support have helped me learn and grow too. They helped me overcome my biggest challenge – communication. English is my second language, so I struggled with that at first. In time, my confidence in my English grew after spending time communicating with my clients. Having people be more patient when listening to and talking with me helped me become more patient and improve my communication skills with others.

Completing a lot of study has definitely helped me be a better Support Worker. I’ve done a Diploma in Community Welfare, Certificate III in Homecare and Community, Certificate III in Education Support for Special Needs, Certificate IV in Human Resources, as well as additional training in communicating with deaf and blind people and people with challenging behaviours through Senses. I try to keep busy all the time and do things that are useful to my job and life in general. Life is precious, so I don’t want to waste it.

Jennifer Colorado
Support Worker
Senses Foundation, Western Australia

True Stories: Elaine Carr – The career of choice

Elaine Carr

I always knew that I wanted to work with people and do something selfless. I never realised where it would take me though.

I started off working for a few health and disability services in the United Kingdom while I was studying at uni. A year into my studies I realised that uni wasn’t for me. So I took off and backpacked around Asia and Australia. I had a working visa for Australia and while working in a small mining town in Western Australia, I met Mick – my future husband. That wasn’t part of the plan, but I ran with it and settled in Australia. Once my visas were sorted out, I turned to finding a career. I narrowed it down to two choices where I could help others; aged care or disability. I chose disability because I thought it would be more interesting and challenging. It was the best decision I ever made.

Despite having absolutely no experience in the sector, Nulsen employed me as a support worker in a home for people with high care needs. Within my first year, Nulsen enrolled me in a Certificate 3, then 4 in Disability. Doing the training offered such an insight to the world of disability care. It was fabulous.

After a year and a half in that home, I was transferred to a home where the clients had challenging behaviours. Today, it’s a few years down the track and I’m still there. However, I’m no longer a support worker, although that is a part of my role as the Residential Services Manager.

I love to learn, so while working at Nulsen I’ve put my hand up for every training avenue possible. I participated in a mentorship program which allows me to be a mentor to other staff members. I’ve become a trainer and assessor of manual handling which means I can teach others correct lifting and manual handling techniques. I’ve also completed my Diploma of Community Services Coordination which was brilliant and helped pave the way for me to become a Residential Services Manager.

Training isn’t just good for yourself and your own development; it’s good for the people with disabilities that you support too. Training has made me more confident in my abilities and has opened up my eyes to other possibilities and ways of doing things. It also helps keep you up to date with new ways of doing things, policies and procedures. It’s almost as if training completes the picture of working in the care industry. It marries theory with working with people with a disability and your peers.

I never thought that when I started at Nulsen that I’d be a manager only four years later. But my motto is “If you don’t ask, you don’t receive”. So I asked my managers about new courses and training opportunities, I asked about new roles and job availabilities and by doing so I’ve completed numerous courses and climbed the career ladder. The possibilities in the disability sector are endless. There are no boundaries on what you can achieve.

Elaine Carr
Residential Services Manager
Nulsen, Western Australia