I feel my cultural background has definitely helped me to be able to relate well to my clients at Sunshine, where I am working as a Casual Support Worker.
I was born in Malaysia and came to Australia with my family when I was 5 years old. At times I did experience discrimination when I was growing up, just like many different cultural groups. Even today I do experience it, but I think my openness in dealing with different situations and my constant exploration has allowed me to be able to overcome a lot of that discrimination. I have always pushed myself to be exposed to different things and to mix with all sorts of people. I am curious about everything and I’m able to overcome a lot of challenges.
I work for Sunshine’s respite services in the St Ives area, mostly with the same three clients – a young boy with autism, an older man and a 17 year old teenager. I spend time with each of my clients which gives their families some respite. I started working at Sunshine about 9 months ago and have worked with the same three clients for all of that time. With my younger clients we go to the mall, or we go to the park and kick a ball around. With my older client we spend a lot of time talking. My shifts are about 3-4 hours each.
I have had a varied career and was working in business and finance 5 years ago. I wanted to change my career path and started studying to be a chiropractor but I then became more interested in education. I’m currently completing my Diploma in Education, as well as my Bachelor of Science.
I started thinking about working with young people so I decided to look for some volunteer work in that area. I found that it wasn’t so easy to get into so I started looking at the disability sector. I thought that it might be easier to get into. I ended up getting a paid casual position direct with Sunshine and it’s been a catalyst for my current interest in the area.
When I started working I was buddied up with other staff members, but to be honest it was a steep learning curve. One thing I particularly remember is that I had to be conscious of the language I used. I had never been in much contact with people with disabilities so I was unaware of how to refer to clients and the different terms we use. I also learnt to think about what can potentially go wrong in certain situations, such as when we are at the beach with a young client. You always need to be thinking ahead.
I’m in the third year of my degree and I’m still not sure where I’ll head when I finish. At the moment I am thinking it will be a career in education but I’m not 100% sure.
- TRUE STORIES: Joseph Majambere – Supporting people from all backgrounds to become who they wish to be.