"The job has been a holiday from my studies"
Rachel has been a disability support worker part-time with Yooralla for the past three years, but says her involvement with Yooralla goes back as long as she can remember.
For Rachel, it’s been a family affair. She has a brother with cerebral palsy and another brother who also worked as a disability support worker while studying.
“My family has been involved with Yooralla my whole life, and I’ve always wanted to have a part-time job in the disability sector,” Rachel said.
Rachel studies medicine and says the flexibility of the job is perfect for her busy schedule.
“It’s been amazing with my studies. It fits in so well! It’s great to be able to work on the weekend so I can focus on my studies during the week.
“I’ve been to quite a few camps during my uni breaks. It can be hard work for a few days – but it’s so much fun.
“For me, the job has really been a holiday from my studies. I work one day a week, get great pocket money and something completely different from the rest of my day-to-day life.”
Rachel said recreation support was a great initiative that she loved being a part of. Rachel works with two regular groups with varying support needs.
“When I explain to friends what I do for a job, they are blown away that initiatives like this are available for families and especially teenagers with disabilities.
“Typically, we meet at 11 am on a Saturday, travel to the city and spend the day going to the movies, eating out, going bowling or going to the aquarium – basically giving teenagers the opportunity to do just what any other kid would be doing on the weekend.
“We support them in all their needs, make sure they’re well looked after, that they’re comfortable and enjoying themselves, and help them get involved as much as they can with things going on in the community.
“We encourage them to try different things – sometimes outside their comfort zones. It’s really great to see them blossom and step up to try new activities – especially working with the same group for three years.
“What I love most is having parents tell me how excited their kid has been in the days leading up to the program. It’s really rewarding being able to rock up to work and hear from parents about how excited their child is – so excited that they’ve woken up at the crack of dawn and had to be told it’s still a few more hours until it’s time to go!
“One girl, when she comes in the morning, her face is just lit up and she’s smiling all day. You can tell she just loves being with us and loves being out in the community – it just makes my day all the time.”
“Although the dynamics between the lower and higher needs groups are quite different, both are rewarding because you can see how much they are really enjoy the activities we do.
Rachel said Yooralla has afforded her many professional development opportunities.
“I’ve had so many paid training opportunities to develop my skills, such as key word signing, behavioral support or epilepsy management - which I did just last week.
“It’s really, really great – and just one of the many things Yooralla does to support staff,” she said.
What would Rachel say to someone who was thinking about applying for a job at Yooralla?
“I would say absolutely go for it. Especially if you want to really make a change in someone’s day or someone’s week. It’s a fantastic opportunity just to get involved. It’s not only a really enjoyable job but it’s also rewarding.
“This is a job where the more you put in the more you get out – it’s worth so much to me!”