Why I became a disability support worker

For some, a career in disability support is a calling. For others, it’s a chance encounter. But for many it’s a combination of both – just like these three disability support workers. They have come together from different backgrounds but with a shared goal – to make a positive impact in the lives of people with disabilities.

Meet Imelda, the caring advocate

Nine months ago, Imelda began her journey as a disability support worker at Mambourin in Braybrook. From her first day on the job, she knew she had made the right choice. She was struck by the positive impact that support workers could have on the lives of individuals with disabilities and was eager to get started.

Imelda sits outside on a garden bench, she is smiling

This photo of Imelda was taken by Andrew, one of the people she supports in a photography program

Meet Patricia, the enthusiastic administrator

Patricia has always had a heart for helping others and found the perfect opportunity at Mambourin. She has nine months of experience working as an administrator during the week and a support worker on weekends.

Patricia stands in the reception office, she is smiling

Patricia enjoys working in the Mambourin Melton office as well as providing direct supports

Meet Brian, the dedicated artist

Brian has always been drawn to the arts, with a background in entertainment, design and fashion. Despite his passion for the creative industries, he felt a calling to pursue a career in disability support work.

With almost three years of experience at Mambourin, Brian has worked in various locations, including Melton, Bacchus Marsh, Sunshine, and Altona hubs.

A portrait of Brian against a black background

Brian’s personal connection to the disability sector brought him into the role

How it all started

Imelda always wanted to make a positive impact in her community and help those in need. After considering various career paths, she discovered the field of disability support and knew that it was the perfect fit for her. With her compassionate nature and strong drive to make a difference, Imelda felt confident that she could positively contribute to this industry.

For Patricia, her journey began when she realised she needed to do more. “I want to get to know our participants more so I would understand them better, therefore, I will be able to give them the help and support they need.”

For Brian, his decision to pursue a career in disability support was shaped by his personal connections to the industry. “I have family members who live with a disability, so I felt that support work came naturally to me.”

Most rewarding parts of disability support work

For all three of them, the most rewarding part of the work is seeing the positive impact they make on the lives of the individuals they support. “Seeing the progress and result when they’ve achieved their goals. The smiles on their faces are amazing,” says Imelda.

Brian agrees, “Supporting individuals with their daily and lifetime goals is a great achievement. To see their happy faces is worth celebrating.”

There are also those unexpected learnings you get along the way. “Working with people with disability changed my perspective on people in a positive way,” says Patricia. “It made me realise how people should treat everyone with kindness every day as we don’t know what everyone is dealing with in their own lives daily.”

Most challenging parts of the work

Like any job, disability support work can be challenging at times.

For Imelda, the most challenging part is assisting individuals with complex needs. “Doing simple tasks can take much longer to complete.” Imelda recognises the importance of being supportive and understanding in these situations.

For Patricia, it’s communicating with the people she supports. But she’s learned a practical way to overcome this. “I would talk to an experienced staff member and ask for strategies that will help me communicate better.”

On the other hand, Brian sees challenges as part of his role as a disability support worker. He understands these challenges help him grow and become a better support worker. Over time, he’s learned to build a rapport with each individual and considers it an accomplishment.

A support worker crouches down to talk to the person she is supporting who is sitting on a low wall at the beach

Support workers might assist people to visit places in the community

The most important qualities for a disability support worker

When asked about the essential qualities of a disability support worker, Imelda, Patricia and Brian all agreed on the importance of empathy and promoting empowerment for those with disabilities.

But each approached these concepts with their unique perspective, emphasising different qualities and strategies.

Imelda emphasised the importance of having passion and patience. Patricia stressed the importance of promoting empowerment and including the individual in their own daily planning. Brian highlighted the need for good listening skills, respect for values, and building trust with the individual.

These diverse perspectives highlight the multi-faceted nature of the work and the importance of having a well-rounded set of skills and qualities to be an effective disability support worker.

Advice for aspiring disability support workers

For those considering a career in disability support, Patricia says it’s essential to be compassionate and to prioritise the needs and desires of the individuals they support. It is also important people understand the importance of empowering the individuals they work with. “Make sure [you] are working in this industry to provide opportunities, quality care and services to customers.”

Imelda emphasises the rewarding nature of the work. “The feeling of being able to help others and be a part of their journey in life is indescribable.”

Brian encourages those considering a career in disability support to trust themselves and to focus on their passion for supporting others. “When I first started, it was a completely different environment to what I was used to compared to my career background. But I needed to trust myself that I could be a great support worker. I quickly became confident in how I handled situations, and I began to love what I was doing.” He noted that while each day may present different challenges, “Each day is different, each day is a rewarding experience.”

Grow your career in disability support work with Mambourin

At Mambourin, we understand the importance of providing our workers with the resources and support needed to grow and succeed in their careers. We offer pathways for career development, including opportunities for ongoing training and professional development.

If you’re interested in making a positive impact in the lives of individuals with disabilities, consider volunteering with us at Mambourin. You’ll have the opportunity to gain valuable experience and make a difference in your community while taking your first steps towards a rewarding and fulfilling career in disability support work.

Other areas of interest

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