Community service

True Stories: Luke Kent – job is very rewarding!

Luke-Kent_editedMy name is Luke Kent and I’m a Wiradjuri man. My family comes from the Wellington area but I have grown up in the Hunter Valley. I’m a Trainee Assistant in Nursing at a large residential centre at Stockton. I work in an accommodation unit with adults with intellectual disabilities.

I’d heard that Aboriginal Home Care was running a traineeship and people I knew encouraged me to apply. I went for an interview and was offered a traineeship. I completed a Certificate III in Aged Care Work and obtained my driver’s licence, which was fully sponsored as part of the traineeship.

True Stories: Sarah Delaney – learn valuable skills in community work

Sarah Delaney editedI work with the Australian Foundation for Disability (AFFORD) as the Team Leader for the Community Participation Program at Jamisontown.

The Community Participation Program gives adults living with disability the opportunity to learn valuable life skills such as cooking, shopping and using public transport, whilst also having a great time with music, art, sport and community activities. Each person in the program is encouraged to be the best they can be and to have fun while achieving their goals. Jamisontown has 20 clients and 6 staff.

I haven’t always worked in disability. When I left school I went to Business College and became a secretary, progressing after 5 years or so to the level of executive secretary in a company which manufactured metal cutting tools. While I really enjoyed the work, I was over the office politics and felt I needed to try something new.

Growing up, my grandmother had lived with us all my through my childhood and we had cared for her,

True Stories : Samantha Hellegers – Single mother and finding work

Samantha-Hellegers_editedI’ve been working in hospitality casually for a while now but I wanted to find a career for myself. I’m a single mother with a 6 year old daughter and I’m focused on making the best of our future.

I went to Centrelink’s Career Expo earlier this year and found out about Work Savvy Parents, who assist parents in finding work. I ended up joining one of the Work Savvy programs which included 12 information sessions on career development and finding work. There were about 8 participants involved.

True Stories: Rosie Power – From volunteer to Senior Coordinator

Rosie-Power-editedI work at FRANS (Family Resource and Network Support), coordinating Community Access Programs for people with disability aged from about 4 years old to 65 years old. The programs allow participants to experience cultural, sporting, theatrical and scenic opportunities in Sydney with their friends, and with support from FRANS workers. I am also involved in the coordination of a tri-yearly disco, as well as school holiday vacation care.

I started at FRANS as a volunteer. I was looking for a career that would allow me to meet interesting people, with a broad range of life experiences, joy and hardship. I also wanted to do work that was meaningful to the community, as well as practical and challenging. I didn’t want to be sitting at a desk working through routine paperwork.

True Stories – Rocellita Lacsina – Long history of changing jobs!

Rocellita-2I’ve had a long history of changing jobs, and even careers, prior to my current position. Before coming to Australia in 1999, I was an advertising copywriter and small business owner. Migrating gave me the excellent opportunity to pursue a different professional path – one that was more immediately rewarding because it aligned with my personal values and beliefs.

When my youngest child reached pre-school age, I did a distance education course (Graduate Diploma in Childbirth Education). At the same time, I started doing community volunteer work. The exposure and growing experience landed me a succession of highly-fulfilling, project-based work in community services (migrant settlement services, youth work, perinatal work, volunteer coordination). I realized then that working with the community was the way for me to go.

True Stories: Mim Balcombe – things are never boring!

Mim-Balcombe_editedAfter completing my HSC, I did not know what I wanted to do. I was not particularly excited at the thought of studying again and so I decided to look for work and see what interested me. I applied for a range of positions, a Trainee Receptionist position at The Mai-Wel Group being one of them. I was successful in gaining the Receptionist position which I held for three and a half years.

In this time, I gained a large amount of knowledge of the organisation and the surrounding community, had a wide variety of experiences, and started to get a feel for what I did and did not enjoy doing.

True Stories: Melissa Pitfield – everyday is different!

Melissa-Pitfield_editedI work for National Disability Services in the NSW Companion Card team. Companion Cards are issued to people with a significant disability who are unable to access the community without the assistance of a carer.

My role is to assess whether people are eligible for the card and I also promote the program to disability organisations, service providers and the general community to increase awareness about the program and to assist people to understand and complete applications.

After high school I completed a Bachelor of Applied Science in Occupational Therapy and I knew I was most interested in working with people in a community setting. At first I wasn’t quite clear on what this would involve and was unsure exactly what area I would end up working in.

True Stories: Matthew Old – Took the role and never looked back!

Matthew OldI entered the sector by chance when my sister organised an interview for me with another disability organisation in their transition to work programs. Having no real knowledge or understanding of the issues faced by people with disability it was a steep learning curve. I did, however, have experience working with young people and believing in them, to make the most of their lives. I took this into my role and haven’t looked back.

I now work as a Leaving Care Program Mentor for Northcott Disability Services in the Hunter region. I work with young people who are or have been in the care of Community Services and are about to make a transition into the Ageing, Disability and Home Care sector.

True Stories: Jason Ballerini – Life change after accident

Jason Ballerini_editedI know for me it feels like I did not chose this line of work, I believe it chose me. As a fit and active 16 year old, with my life ahead of me, social work was the last thing on my mind. After a diving accident in 1996 left me a quadriplegic, not only did I lose the ability to walk, I felt as though all my options, dreams and aspirations washed away down that creek as well.

True Stories: Harkeet Sandhu – A helping hand!

When I finished high school, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do. There wasn’t a specific job or career that stood out to me.

So I chose a degree that I found interesting and figured that everything else would fall into place. I did a Bachelor of Science in Psychology at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom. I was fascinated by the human mind and how people interact. I thought that a psychology degree would offer me many skills and open up many doors for me. It did.Harkeet Sandhu

The first door the degree opened for me was the door to the rest of the world. After uni I went to South Africa to volunteer. I spent three months at Horizon Farm Trust doing a variety of things including conservation work, building and developing recreational activities for people at risk of being recruited into gang cultures such as people with mental health problems.

It was an exciting, rewarding adventure. And I wanted more of it.

True Stories: Craig Bellamy – Keeping people fit and healthy at work!

I started working at The Mai-Wel Group’s Transition to Work (TTW) Program, developing training sessions for our clients, who are young people with a disability, around work related topics that helped to improve their transition from school to employment.

Some of the topics covered included reverse marketing for employment, through cold calling. I also covered the expectations that employers have for new employees, and the responsibilities that new employees have themselves, including keeping up personal appearances and having a good attitude at work.Craig-Bellamy_edited

I was then lucky enough to be approached by Mark Newton to apply for a Health and Fitness Instructor position in Mai-Wel’s Pro Active Inside ‘N Out Program. Mark was the author of Pro-Active, which originated from his idea that staff and supported employees can be fit and healthy at work.

During my interview for the position, which I got, Mark commented on the tremendous rapport that I had built with many of the clients in the TTW Program. Along with my ability to build that rapport, I feel my education also helped me to secure the role. I have a Certificate III in Fitness as part of a TAFE Plus program at the University of Newcastle and I’ve also completed a Business degree.

True Stories: Bryn Hoskins – Volunteering to employment!

Photo of Bryn Hoskins VolunteeringI work in Frontline Support as a Support Worker at The Mai-Wel Group in Newcastle. Mai-Wel has a Day Centre and offers Community Access programs in Skills Development and Social Participation. In my role, I support individuals with intellectual and physical disabilities to access the community and realise their potential. Never had thought that my volunteering would lead to employment!

Eight years ago I completed a trade as a plant mechanic. I was not satisfied to continue to pursue this trade as my vocation. I worked casually and intermittently for 12 months before having a discussion with a friend about his current volunteer work. I thought it sounded interesting and decided volunteering one day a week was just the thing for me.

After three months of volunteering  I was offered a casual position which quickly grew into a permanent role. I have been with the same employer for seven years now and have never regretted my change in vocation. From the moment I began my volunteering work I knew I had an opportunity to have a profession which was fun, interesting and, most of all, personally satisfying.

Bryn Hoskins

Support Worker

The Mai-Wel Group

True Stories: Brendan O’Connell – e-Inclusion – work or play!

I first started in the disability sector as a casual Residential Support Worker whilst studying and I found it flexible and enjoyable, and it fit in with my lifestyle. The experience I gained in the role also gave me a firm grounding in operations at a service level and it certainly helps me now with understanding some of the challenges people face when living in supported accommodation and accessing services.

I’ve always had an interest in video, editing, photography, and all the associated equipment and technology, and I was first introduced to the concept and benefits of using this medium, as a form of accessible information for people with intellectual disabilities, when I was working in the United Kingdom (which was over a period of 4 years).

True Stories: Belinda Bennett – A Sense of Family and Community!

Belinda Bennett edited

I work for Disability Services Australia (DSA) travelling between Queanbeyan and Goulburn regularly as an Employment Consultant for a Transition to Work program.

I began work in the aged care sector 9 years ago as a Paid Care Worker in a nursing home and I have since progressed my career by taking on a number of roles including Personal Carer in aged care, Activities Officer for elderly people, and Diversional Therapist.

I started working in aged care when I was quite young and found that I really loved it for the social interaction with different people, and the sense of family and community.

True Stories: Anna Buddo – It has, and continues to be, a positive experience!


I transferred from New Zealand with my husband’s work and when my second child was 2 ½ years old I was ready to re-enter the workforce.

My children were both under five so I wanted to be able to spend time with them, so therefore part time was ideal and being local was even better, as the thought of commuting and being stuck in traffic did not appeal. A role in community services ticked both of these boxes.

Working in the community services sector has the advantage of being able to offer part time and flexible hours, which is very important to me and the children.

I was unsure what to expect from working in the community as my whole working career had been working in a hospital, as a dietician. I have been very fortunate and have had three different roles with Hunters Hill Ryde Community Services. The first was as the Food Services Assistant, then as the Food Services Coordinator and now as the Team Leader.

Trues Stories: Anja Vukovic – Kick-starting my career!

During my Bachelor degree I studied sociology and researched many of the inequalities that our society faces. It left me with an urge to further advance my studies in that area and to also do more to support those who find it difficult to find resources and services.Anja-Vukovic_edited

After I completed my degree I ended up joining a very corporate, fast paced world working in management and sales at KFC and then Coca-Cola Amatil. These positions were certainly fulfilling in their financial and career aspects, but did not leave me feeling like I was giving back to my community.

When I saw my position being advertised by FRANS (Family Resource and Network Support), I knew it was my chance to kick-start a new career path. In my role I coordinate respite for families caring for children (between the ages of 0 and 18 years) with high support needs. I arrange for 1 to 1 care, or sometimes 2 to 1, that takes place in the home or community.

True Stories: Alisse Green – Life is about people!

Alisse Green_edited

I love people and I believe life is about people. Without them there wouldn’t be much to life. At school I completed Community and Family Studies in the HSC and I then went on to uni and graduated with a Bachelor of Social Sciences, majoring in Psychology. When I ended up in this industry it felt perfect for me. I started at St George and Sutherland Community College (SGSCC) disABILITY in 2008.

Our clients are some of the happiest people I know and I just loving working at the college. I truly value the opportunity to be a positive influence in their lives. Simply by making them smile, giving them independence and helping them to learn, I myself can learn new things along the way.

SGSCC disABILITY provides support to people in the community with a disability. We have three main programs – Kringen, STEP and Literacy & Numeracy. I get very excited about trying new things in my work. Anything that helps make the client’s lives easier and of a better quality is awesome.

True Stories: Beau Thornton – The challenge gives me a purpose to keep going!

Beau-ThorntonI began work in the disability and community care sector when I was 19. I started out by accident when a friend raised the idea. I was quite apprehensive at first, but what I loved about it straight away was the people. Back then, I could not have imagined the career opportunities that have come my way in the last few years.

Today I am an Accommodation Manager, running the Community Justice Program (CJP) for Sylvanvale, based in Kirrawee. The CJP is aimed at preventing people with disabilities who have broken the law from reoffending, and also assists people with disabilities who are homeless or living on streets.

True Stories: Nathan Christopher – Enjoying seeing clients happy as a result of our service

Nathan ChristopherI’ve worked in the sector for 4 years now and I’m currently a Project Officer for the Respite and In-Home Care Team at The Disability Trust. The service is based in Nowra and we provide in-home support to clients with disabilities throughout the Shoalhaven area.

My job is to coordinate and provide support to the care staff who visit clients in their homes. We have about 21 clients with a range of support needs, and a number of care staff.