True Stories: Matt Spanko – my journey of learning

Matt Spanko_editedI was at university and had to do some work experience at DoCS (Department of Community Services). It was at that point I realised that this was where my passion and interests lay – in helping young people with barriers to participation. I have loved working across a number of services, age groups and disability types. Everyday is different and everyday I learn, and while everyday might not be fun I always have a laugh.

I ended up working for 7 years at DoCS and ADHC (Ageing, Disability and Home Care) as a Care Worker in a Day Program. This involved taking young people with a range of disabilities, primarily quite severe and challenging behaviours, out from their homes and into the community. Many of the clients were in group homes and had only just been moved from large institutions, so this provided us with even greater motivation to provide a safe, enjoyable and rewarding experience. I have now worked in both government and not-for-profit services.

Over the years I have witnessed the benefits of services such as FRANS (Family Resource and Network Support), where I now work. I have committed myself to trying to do what I can to improve people’s opportunities, increase community awareness and breakdown the stereotypes of people with disability. As part of my career, I have now moved from direct care to a managerial role, but I still have the chance to work directly with FRANS participants who always keep me grounded with a clear focus on what I hope to bring to their lives.

I now have a family of three young children and I believe that the influences and experiences I have had over the years, both positive and negative, have made me a better person. My children all know what I do and why it is important to be accepting of people who might “seem different”. I am still in contact with many of my old clients and encourage such interactions with others. I have taken my friends and family on this road of learning, to invest in the unseen capabilities of all people, and to reap the personal satisfaction of helping others. I won’t deny it can be frustrating, sad and draining at times, but these experiences can be life changing.

Matt Spanko

Manager, Ability, Community Access and Day Programs

FRANS (Family Resource and Network Support)

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