True Stories: Jillian Black – a family connection

Jillian and Brad Black My brother, who has a significant intellectual disability, has been an enormous influence in not only my life but the entire backbone of my family, making disability advocacy the dominant culture in our lives. But I never realised, until recently I could turn that personal passion into a career.

After completing a Bachelor of Communication in Media Arts I decided to take a bit of a left turn and head to Japan to teach English. I originally signed up for one year but that one year quickly turned into three.

After my time teaching abroad I returned to Australia to work for a disability employment service which saw me supporting individuals with intellectual disabilities in gaining access to the regular workforce.

I had seen how my brother had grown in independence through meaningful employment and I wanted to play a part in that for others. I loved the flexibility of the role. Being exposed to the many and varied industries as well as my clients’ different learning styles certainly kept me on my toes. I was a total chameleon. One day I’d be job training at a warehouse in my hard-hat and safety boots and the next I’d be in my heels with a briefcase in tow, job training at a prestigious financial firm.

Many of us complain about our jobs but we forget what our 9-5 gives us. It gives us independence, financial freedom and access to a wide range of social networks. I loved being a part of my clients’ own experiences accessing their own independence, financial freedom and networks. Seeing my clients make the natural break away from their family to start carving their own identity was often liberating and I felt privileged to be a part of that.

I don’t think it’s about making everything equal. It’s about making things equitable. Quite simply, we all should be able to experience quality of life, regardless of ability or disability. Quality of life is a fundamental human right and whatever we can do (yes, that’s you too!) to support this deserves our time.

I’ve recently come on board with National Disability Services as their Marketing Coordinator for projectABLE. It’s a fabulous program aimed at encouraging high school and university students to consider the many and varied career opportunities in the disability and community care sector.

I haven’t always worked in the sector. I’ve worked in retail, hospitality, media research, education, the list goes on! A career doesn’t mean you’re bound to one industry your entire life. A career should take you on a journey which explores your passions. Passion for me is knowing that the work I’m doing is contributing to a collective voice for change.

Jillian Black

Marketing Coordinator


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