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Case study: Bronwyn - Disability Support Worker

Bronwyn is a Worimi and Kamilaroi woman who supports people of different ages and backgrounds to do the things they need to do

Bronwyn is a Worimi and Kamilaroi woman who supports people of different ages and backgrounds to do the things they need to do. She is a strong believer in the power of helping others. She has worked for Rumbalara Aboriginal Cooperative in Shepparton for 20 years, supporting people with disability and the elderly. Her work is as diverse as the people she supports. Every day is different and could involve taking someone grocery shopping or to a medical appointment, supporting them one-on-one in their home, or just talking to a person on the phone.

“The people I support come from different backgrounds, different age groups and have different types of disability. I’m lucky to be able to see the positive impact of my work in their reactions. Sometimes a client will tell me that just being there makes their day,” says Bronwyn.

“Some people don’t have anyone at home to support them. They might be housebound or feel unable to go out. Part of my job is to visit them and encourage them to go into the community and try things. Or they might be in hospital and may not have family or friends nearby. Sometimes just coming and talking to people, listening and checking if they need anything can make all the difference.”

Bronwyn says her career choices have always been driven by the desire to help people.

“I started off working in hospitals. A friend recommended disability support work and I applied for a part-time role. I was unsure at first because I didn’t know many people after moving to Victoria from South Australia. But I’ve been with Rumbalara 20 years and I consider a lot of my co-workers as relations. We call each other aunty and uncle. We have a great connection and a bond through the work we do.”

Bronwyn cooking with Max

Bronwyn did her Certificate III, and then Certificate IV in Disability while continuing to work part time. Now as an experienced worker she enjoys mentoring new and younger staff and takes them with her to meet clients and do activities.

“I think that showing people how to apply the theory on the job is the best way to learn. And many of the workers are related so the clients like to meet new workers as well,” she says.

Bronwyn works full time, Monday to Friday. But even when her work is finished for the day, she still looks out for others.

“If I have my uniform on and I visit the local supermarket, people know where I work. And even when I’m not working, if I see someone that might need some help – I have to go and help them.

“Just helping people – it’s a simple idea. Just by being there, by sharing a laugh, making a connection. Doing that as part of your work every day, you get to go home thinking ‘I made a difference to someone today’.”

She advises people who are looking for a rewarding career and are curious about disability support work to give it a try.

“I say go for it! You’re working with people and helping them to do things, to get the most out of life.

“To me, supporting people with disability is all about quality of life. Encouraging people and making them happy – that’s my job. Seeing someone’s face light up and hearing how much they appreciate me makes it all worthwhile.”

Bronwyn’s story is one example from the many organisations and individuals dedicated to supporting people with disability in Victoria. Organisations may offer service, work opportunities and training that differ from those described here.

Reviewed 04 August 2021

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