Cicilia’s disability support role worlds away from her past lives

Cicilia's journey to becoming a Yooralla Disability Support Worker has seen her travel more kilometres than most!

Cicilia, a Disability Support Worker (DSW) and part-time Acting Service Manager at Yooralla’s Mooroopna residential service came to Australia from native Sweden in 2012, taking a job as a rouseabout in a shearing shed around Strathbogie. She later returned home to start university, training to teach Swedish at high school. However, Australia eventually lured her back. Before joining Yooralla, Cicilia worked at a supermarket in Benalla for four years, most recently as a Manager.

Why disability support work?

Cicilia chose disability support work for her new career, as she has “always been interested in working with people, so that’s why I thought disability and community services would be a good career.”

“I have a few friends and family members who have worked in the sector and they said [disability] is a great introduction into the [community services] sector, that it’s rewarding and you get to learn a lot about caring for people. Working with people is something I really want to do, and I had nothing to lose and thought I’d give it a go – turned out I really love it”, Cicilia said.

“Supporting people at the supermarket it isn’t the same interaction – it’s not the one-on-one that you get [working in disability support]. It’s also a lot of shift work and it was a hard physical job, stocking shelves, running around; whereas here it’s more dynamic, working more with your head trying to figure things out which suits me a lot better,” she said. 

Cicilia said she has also achieved a better work-life balance with her new role as a DSW. “I appreciate the shift work, and the managers I work with here are always flexible and considerate of work-life balance,” she said. “Some days I’m working 9 am to 3 pm and then come home and spend time with my family.”

Cicilia completed a Certificate IV in disability and diploma in Community Services before joining Yooralla and she found that Yooralla’s extensive induction and ongoing training has helped tie everything together for her. 

She has felt supported coming into the disability sector with no prior disability work experience; even outside of normal business hours when she does a regular sleepover shift at the house.

“We have the on-call service so during the night if something happens, we can always call the on-call numbers if there is an emergency or if you’re unsure of something which is really good and empowering to know,” she said.

Cicilia also noted that Yooralla staff have access to a free counselling service if anyone is struggling for any reason. She said the biggest benefit of working in disability support with Yooralla “is the reward you get and the recognition for your work.” She would definitely recommend a role with Yooralla to anyone seeking a rewarding career.

“We get the opportunity to be such a big part in a person’s life and help them achieve their goals and their dreams. It’s really rewarding and a great opportunity. I really like the way we work with people – we are using a person-centred approach – we are always giving customers options and we empower them and try to give them the best lives they can live."

“I think it’s that we spend so much time with these guys, you build a meaningful relationship with them – you spend a lot of time in their house and it’s really rewarding to see them grow and get opportunities,” she said, “and I have good workmates,” she added.

A typical day for Cicilia may involve supporting customers to prepare meals and doing some meal preparation herself, administering medications, assisting with activities such as crafts, communicating with customers’ day placements and taking customers out for lunches, to food shopping or to appointments.

So why did Cicilia choose Yooralla as an employer?

“Yooralla has been around for such a long time everyone seems to know about Yooralla, and everyone I’ve spoken to have said good things about Yooralla so I thought this is a good company to join,” Cicilia said.

Whilst her previous role of supermarket manager might seem quite different to her new role supporting Yooralla’s customers, Cicilia has found that there are many transferable skills that have benefited her new role supporting Yooralla’s customers.

“Working in customer service has definitely taught me a lot of things on how to handle people…it has really helped me here because working with people you need to be a bit flexible and work around things and that is the biggest thing. Also, working at the supermarket I had to be very efficient, so I’ve learned time management and responsibility,” she said.

Cicilia has already had an opportunity for further career progression since joining Yooralla in 2020. “The role came up as Acting Service Manager and I applied for it. Although I have management experience it’s not within the sector, so I didn’t think I’d be successful. But I thought if you don’t try… so I got in and was successful [in the role]."

“In the beginning trying to pick up from the last manager was challenging but I reckon I’ve gone really well, and my managers have been really supportive. Everyone has taken their time to have 1:1 [time] with me…so I feel really supported. Which has probably also given me the confidence to step up and into the role.

“I think that it’s given me opportunity to be a bigger part of the house and strive to make the house better and provide better service and care, because I really want to be a part of this working as a team and we’re all putting our knowledge and experience together,” Cicilia said of her role as Acting Service Manager.

Does this sound like a role you’d be interested in? 

Yooralla is now recruiting for community-based and residential Disability Support Worker roles across Melbourne and regional Victoria. If you’re a passionate communicator who will be committed to empowering people with disability to reach their goals – we want you

You’ll support our customers to access the community and recreational opportunities and in aspects of daily living, and you’ll get a rewarding role and flexibility with hours to work in around your family, study or other commitments.

To find out more about working in disability support for Yooralla, visit Working as a DSW at Yooralla, or to apply for opportunities, visit our current vacancies.

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