True Stories: Amber Ericksen – Stepping out of my comfort zone

Amber Ericksen

It was my son who led me to working in the disability sector. At just two-and-a-half, he was diagnosed with high functioning autism. I needed work, so figured that given my son’s diagnosis, working in the disability sector made sense. Despite having no experience, I found a job where they were willing to give me a chance working on reception. Given my life experience with my son and his condition, when a position managing the organisation’s respite service opened up six months later, I was offered that role. For the next seven years I moved through every position possible such as running social groups, after school programs and respite for children.

Then I saw a case management position advertised at Anglicare Victoria. Although I had plenty of case management experience in my roles to date, none of them carried the title of case manager. I figured that this was a great opportunity to step up my career, so I may as well apply. I felt that there was no harm in trying, and it was better to give something a go, rather than just wonder ‘what if?’. Plus, if I’d stayed in my comfort zone, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

I have been with Anglicare Victoria for the past 18 months as an Intake and Assessment Officer (previously known as Disability Case Manager). The ultimate aim of my role is to provide guidance and advice to people with a disability and their families. Anglicare Victoria plays a short-term role in these people’s lives, helping them by providing information, assisting them to apply for funding, or developing goals and plans with them. I am essentially clearing the clutter and confusion for these people and empowering them to develop skills and strengths so they can leave our range of services and do things independently.

There is always something new to do each day and the success stories is what makes the job so worthwhile. There’s nothing that beats being a part of a family’s success.

People fascinate me, which is one of the reasons I’m now studying to be a psychologist. After my day in the office, I head home and study in the evenings, after my family duties are done. Prior to this degree, I’ve completed a Diploma in Community Services and a Certificate IV in Disability.

I’m excited about my future once I’ve completed my psychology degree. But I’m also very excited about the future of the disability sector, especially seeing that the government is really starting to take a good look at the industry and implementing the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). It’s such a positive thing and makes me think that it will result in greatly improved services for people with a disability.

Amber Ericksen
Intake and Assessment Officer
Anglicare Victoria

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