PROSPECTIVE TRAINEES: Ballina District Community Services Association executive officer Dianna Howell, second from right, with Rohin Knight, Ian Nunn, Rhonda Kent and Kylie Wilson at an assessment day.
PROSPECTIVE TRAINEES: Ballina District Community Services Association executive officer Dianna Howell, second from right, with Rohin Knight, Ian Nunn, Rhonda Kent and Kylie Wilson at an assessment day.

BDCSA helps people to help others

WHEN Rhonda Kent was younger, her dream was to become a nurse.


She wanted to care for people, but her career aspirations were put on hold when she fell pregnant and raised a family.


But now she is determined to realise her dream of helping others and is vying for one of the 10 support worker traineeships being offered by Ballina District Community Services Association.


“I think you learn a lot of from spending time with different people,” Ms Kent said. “This (the traineeship) is something I really want to do.”


And she’s not alone.


More than 100 people expressed an interest in the BDCSA positions, and executive officer Dianna Howell said it was encouraging to see how keen people were to get involved.


“This is a really fast-growing industry,” she said. “But the average age of support workers is about 45 – what we really want to do is attract younger people and indigenous people.


“We also want people with the right attitude.”


Ms Howell said support work was a career in ‘caring for those in our community who most need assistance’.


Traineeship applicants have already attended a one-day information session, and were last week assessed by BDCSA staff.


Ten people will soon start work with BDCSA, gaining on-the-job skills as well as qualifications.


“But we see the issue of attracting and training support workers as something that’s bigger than just us and this area,” Ms Howell said.


“A recent report from the University of Sydney shows that Community Services is a huge and growing industry in Australia, with the number of care workers increasing by 66.2 per cent between 1996 and 2006.


“Because of the demand for trained support workers, we have planned and invested in the industry through the development of our program, ‘Towards a Centre of Excellence’, which leads organisations through the whole trainee recruitment process.”


It is hoped this program will be launched in the next few months.


Focusing on a ‘strengths-based approach’, BDCSA wants workers to help their frail, aged and disabled clients to ‘do things for themselves’.


“Older people in particular don’t want to be patronised,” Ms Howell said. “In the past this (support worker) industry has created dependency, when we should be giving people to skills to help themselves do everyday tasks and jobs.”


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