For 20-year-old Erin MacPherson, working as a disability support worker was a career she unexpectedly fell in love with.
The Simply Better Care employee from Browns Plains had always been passionate about actively serving her community.
As a teenager, she performed many community-service tasks as a PCYC cadet in Oxley, and worked as a Taekwondo instructor with adults and children after earning her black belt.
Erin initially planned to spend a few years working as a nurse to fulfil a different dream.
“I wanted to be a police officer – but to be a police officer, they tend to favour people with life experience,” she said.
“Nursing is a fairly high-pressure industry situation, and you deal a lot with the community, so some of the qualities were very similar in my opinion.”
Erin graduated as an enrolled nurse through TAFE in 2020 and decided it was a career she wanted to pursue long-term.
“I loved nursing,” she said.
“I still love what I do, and I do plan eventually go to university and do my Bachelor of Nursing.”
Erin has been working as a disability support worker since April 2020 with Simply Better Care, where she is considered a top employee.
She takes care of two regular clients at their homes to assist with their daily needs.
The typical daily tasks Erin performs at work includes cooking for clients, feeding them, helping them shower, shave, get dressed, and brush their teeth.
“It’s a lot of work, but I’m enjoying it,” she said.
“Making a difference in people’s days and being a part of the community is the biggest reward for me.”
One of the challenges involved with disability support work was learning to adapt to different clients’ needs and preferences.
“It’s a career that is extremely rewarding and fulfilling, but also requires a lot of patience, understanding and willingness to learn, because everyone you work with is so unique,” Erin said.
According to the NDIS’s 2018 State of the Industry Sector Report, employment levels in the disability sector had been rapidly increasing in Australia as the need for disability support workers was climbing.
In Australia, several pathways are available for becoming a qualified disability support worker, including various certificates, diplomas, and university degrees.