Developmental Educator in the spotlight!

This article appeared in the Messenger Newspaper, late January, by Michelle Etheridge, News Limited.

Helping clients to achieve

Senior developmental educator Fran Whiteley (L), client Cassie Stuart, team leader Debra Aitken and senior access worker Jaspal Singh at SCOSA’s centre in Hackham. PICTURE: AAP/MORGAN SETTE

Thousands of new jobs will be created as the NDIS rolls out across Adelaide. Michelle Etheridge caught up with staff at SCOSA’s Hackham centre to learn more about their roles in the disability sector.

Fran Whiteley, senior

developmental educator

What does your job involve?

A developmental educator is someone who works with people with disabilities to do assessments around their behaviour and plans to minimise behaviours of concern. It’s about developing people’s strengths – and that might be through independent living skills and helping with their communication. For example, a way of communicating might be that they throw something or punch, pinch or kick. We try to do planning to help them communicate and remove or replace the hitting behaviour.

What did you study to get into the sector?

I did a disability studies degree at Flinders University. It’s now called a Bachelor of Disability and Developmental Education.

What do you enjoy about

your role?

I love my job. I’ve been working with people with disabilities on and off for 20 years. They teach me lessons all the time. These guys don’t have the luxuries and privileges we do – it’s about keeping it real. It’s wonderful watching a person reduce their behaviours and really flourish with their activities.

Do you expect to see much jobs growth in your area? It’s a professional area that hasn’t been recognised for many years. But with the introduction of the NDIS, more people are recognising the need for disability educators within their organisations.

Debra Aitkenteam leader How did you get into the sector? I used to be a receptionist for an accountant and didn’t find that very fulfilling. I saw in the Messenger that someone was looking for volunteers in an aged-care facility, to spend time with people who didn’t have any family. I joined the volunteer group and talked to the carers and the look and sound the role really appealed to me. I went and got my qualification as a carer and worked in aged care for about five years, then moved into the disability sector.

When did you start work with SCOSA? In 2013, in the day options program. We facilitate activities like bocce and bowling for people with disabilities . We also do lots of other activities that can be anything from using iPads, to communication groups, swimming and ball games.

What does your job involve now? I liaise with other hubs and families, carers and accommodation houses. I oversee the daily running of everything.

What do you enjoy about the role? Seeing the reactions on participants’ faces and seeing them go home happy. It’s also about seeing the achievements staff have made with the clients and positive feedback from families.

Jaspal Singh, senior access worker

How did you become involved in the sector? I started here last year as an access worker (disability support worker) on a casual basis. I’ve been here in Australia for three years and before that I was in India. In my old country, I saw a lot of people who weren’t getting any support from the government. When I moved here I saw people were getting support. I decided to go for a Certificate 3 in disability work and aged care. Now I’m learning my Certificate 4 in disability to learn more about how to work in the sector.

What does your job involve? Now I’m a senior access worker. I still work with the participants on daily activities but now I’m working more closely with their family members.

Would you encourage other people to work in the sector?

The people who want to work in this sector must join. There’s a lot of jobs that are going to come on the market with the NDIS. We have a shortfall of people.