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Case study: Annie – Disability Educator

Annie is passionate about education and delivers disability awareness training to a range of different organisations across Victoria.

Annie is passionate about education and delivers disability awareness training to a range of different organisations across Victoria. 

Annie’s introduction to disability support work was through a community outreach program she attended in 1995.  

“The program let you hang out with other people with disability,” Annie says. “It was there I met a disability support worker who asked me what I wanted to do and I said, ‘I want to do your job.’” 

Annie then worked as a disability support worker for 11 years. As someone with lived experience of disability, she brought a different perspective to the role. 

“My boss thought I was a motivation for the people we supported and that it showed them you can do what you want in your life. He would say, ‘You’re a real mentor to the people we support.’ 

“That’s why I loved being a support worker so much; it was the interactions with people and seeing them grow as adults, because I used to get that type of support. I think they saw it like, ‘Well, Annie is doing it’, and it was a motivation for them to see and grow.” 

Annie’s current role is as a community educator, where she presents disability awareness training to local businesses, schools and community groups throughout Victoria. 

“As part of my job, my co-presenter and I talk to businesses about the proper etiquette around disability, such as language and communication,” she says.  

“Education is vital; I love when I see someone in the audience have a light-bulb moment and change their mindset. 

“Many people feel awkward when they hear the word ‘disability,’ but in the end, we’re all people after all. Disability shouldn’t be hidden, it’s part of everyday life.” 

Annie’s job is varied and involves presentations and training, as well as some administration, such as coordinating post-workshop surveys and compiling information packs. 

“I love my job. Even if I won the Lotto, I would still go back to work. It’s the team I’ve been with and the bosses I’ve had, who have made me want to grow as a person and develop my skills more. We are always there for one another, which is what I love about working here.” 

For those considering a career in the disability sector, Annie says communication and relationship-building skills are essential, and that it’s important to keep an open mind. 

“You have to be an active listener, a good communicator, a team player and have a good sense of humour. You have to know how to laugh at yourself and not take things to heart.”

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