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Case study: Jake – Division Manager

Jake manages disability service facilities across Melbourne and works closely with area coordinators to ensure consistent delivery of high quality services.

Jake manages disability service facilities across Melbourne and works closely with area coordinators to ensure consistent delivery of high quality services.

When Jake started working as a disability support worker, he had no idea he would one day oversee management of six different day services across Carnegie, Syndal, Boronia, Mitcham, Lilydale and Ringwood.

Six years on, Jake has built a wealth of skills and experience and has worked his way up to become manager of Day and Lifestyle Options services in Scope’s East Division.

“When I entered the disability sector I didn’t know my current role even existed, or that I could do it. After three years as a support worker, I told my manager I’d like the opportunity to step up. I moved into a team leader role, then became a coordinator managing one service,” Jake says.

After finishing high school Jake wanted to be a teacher’s aide for children with disability in primary schools but going to university was the last thing on his mind.

“I ended up doing my Certificate IV in Disability after a friend who was working in the sector recommended it. After graduating I started working in a small community house before moving on to where I work now.

“I could have started working before graduating but having a qualification behind you is important for getting a job and for progressing your career.”

Jake works Monday to Friday between 8am and 4pm; these are the operating hours of the services he oversees.

“I start my day in the office, making sure service agreements are being signed off, checking if there are any issues that staff need our support with, and managing the financial performance of all the services.”

A big part of Jake’s role is spending time at the facilities he is responsible for, engaging with both staff and people who use the services to understand their different concerns. It’s a part of the job he really enjoys because he gets to build on the personal connections he made in former roles.

“I worked in most of the services I now oversee, so when I became a manager, I knew I wanted to maintain my regular contact with the people with disability who use our services and not just focus on staff.”

It’s this personal approach and talent for making connections that has served Jake well over the years and helped him keep ahead of the curve.

“I always approach my manager if I have gaps in my knowledge and learning, and there are always short courses or meetings with business partners to learn from. This helped me adapt what I know and how I do things to overcome challenges,” he says.

When asked what personal qualities and values he thinks are needed to work in disability, Jake is quick to highlight the benefits of diving in and giving it a try.

“Resilience, patience and being able to self-reflect are very important. But I think it’s equally important for someone considering a career in disability support to get that first experience and ask lots of questions.

“Whether that’s through direct employment or volunteering, finding out and trying it for yourself is the best way to understand the support worker role and what’s needed to do it well.”

Jake’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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