Advice for young students considering work in the disability sector during Deakin Q&A forum
DATE: 16 August 2021
A cohort of health students at Deakin University heard from Disability and Inclusion industry professionals about the wide range of careers within the sector in an online forum held in late July.
One such industry professional was Yooralla’s own Kim Vien, Project Manager - Early Careers Professionals, who was joined by others from GenU and the Department of Justice and Community Safety.
The forum was an opportunity for students to hear about their current roles, career journeys and the rewarding opportunities that the sector could offer them.
Kim, an Occupational Therapist (OT) by profession, shared her career journey. She started as an Allied Health OT in mental health and geriatric care in the hospital system.
“I fell into disability after getting attracted to Community Service,” said Kim.
“Working in Allied Health in the hospital system was fast-paced and very structured and you only got a small snapshot of a person’s life. Moving to work in community-based Allied Health services, you get to make connections with people over a long period of time. This kept me engaged and interested in my job.
“Yooralla is a great learning place and I’ve been here for 11 years. I fell in love with disability services as it really suited my personality and values and why I started doing Occupational Therapy in the first place.
“Disability Services was an area or sector that was a surprise to me, it ticked all the boxes in the relationships I wanted to build,” said Kim.
An echoing sentiment throughout the forum was the importance of personal attributes in a candidate, as well as industry specific skills.
“This is something we have definitely been reflecting on sector-wide. You can have a checklist [of skills] but it is very much a value-based sector, and [is] based on how we can provide the best types of support to people who need it,” said Kim.
“The personal attributes of an employee hold a lot more weight than the educational background or the academic accolades.
“Interest and curiosity are very important, as is determination and persistence. These are qualities that I can identify in a lot of people I work with.
“That is one of the unique points of Disability Services, even at entry-level, people notice someone’s passion and curiosity. Being able to demonstrate passion, curiosity and a willingness to learn will get you far in this sector,” said Kim.
Looking to get started working in disability but not sure where to begin?
Kim recommends finding an organisation that you really connect with.
“Going back to the importance of values, find one that aligns with yours and approach them, speak to them about volunteering opportunities or entry-level positions.
“Even if they don’t have something then and there, they will remember you. Reach out to sector and ask the question, you never know what might crop up.
“Emailing is a great way to do this to, explain why you and your values align with the organisation. Or you can contact the main number and ask where you can send a cover letter explaining you and who you are.
“Leave the conversation open, you don’t know what the possibilities could be!” said Kim.