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.

One of the sessions was visited by the Australian Foundation for Disability (Afford) and their CEO explained what the organisation does and what employment opportunities were available. carecareers was also at the session and we were told about what they can do for us in starting a career in the disability and community care sector.

I was really interested at the session and it sparked a previous interest I had had, as a result of having some family members with physical disabilities. My sister is also studying community services so maybe we’re both naturally drawn to the area.

After the session our Work Savvy Coordinator forwarded our resumes on to Afford. Within 2 weeks I had an interview which I felt very comfortable in and I also had an induction at one of the services.

I was nervous on my first shift which was at a Day Program in Penrith, and it was all a little confronting at first. It’s been a little over a month now though and I am starting to settle in.

The staff are very welcoming and understanding that I am new to it all. I look to them for guidance and everyone I meet at Afford loves their job which is very positive for me.
I start my shifts at 9.30am and finish at 2.30pm which is perfect timing to drop off my daughter at school every morning and to pick her up after school.

When I start my shift I greet everyone as I’m arriving. There are around 10-15 clients with intellectual and or physical disabilities who attend the Day Program but this varies day to day. We usually have some morning tea first and then we either stay in house and do activities, or we go out somewhere like the nursery, to lunch or to a park.
I also assist in each client’s Individual Learning Plan (ILP) goals which are different for each client.

Since I have been in the role I have struck up some friendships with the clients. I’m learning more about them and what they are interested in and where they’ve traveled to.

At the moment I am a casual staff member but I hope to be full time at some point to pursue my career in this area. I know I need to get the experience first and work my way up. I may also pursue training in the disability area to help me along.

Along with my Afford shifts, I’m continuing to do some hospitality work casually and I’m also studying floristry at TAFE which is totally different again, but something I started and want to complete.

I have a lot on but somehow everything fits in. My family lives in Sydney so I don’t have a big network immediately around, but I manage. They have been motivating me to go for it and I’m proud that I’ve chosen a career path.

Samantha Hellegers

Casual Worker


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