It’s never too late to change careers
When he turned 55 years of age, First Nations man Herman wanted a career change. After spending his earlier years in maintenance and machine operation, he needed a steady job that would get him out of the sun, help his local Broome community and be more personally fulfilling and rewarding.
Herman found the answer in aged care working as an Aboriginal aged care worker. He readily admits, he had never previously thought about working in the sector but, looking back, he is so glad he did.
“It’s often easier for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to trust another First Nations person to care for them. It can make all the difference in the initial care period. Having someone from the same culture, able to speak the same language, know their voice and better understand the person’s life context can quickly build the trust that’s essential for ongoing quality care,” said Herman, reflecting on the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the care and support sector.
Herman is encouraging more mob to consider a role in disability support or aged care, regardless of age or job experience adding lots of on the job training is provided.
“At my age, I wanted to work inside and I had a pretty good idea of what being a care worker involved,” said Herman. “When I looked into (the role) I was told I would get a lot of training and support so, I had nothing to lose and decided to give it a go.
“When I started, I had a lot of really good training on the job and through my workplace and I learned a lot. I was taught all the skills I needed for the job, how to approach and care for older people and how to use all the personal protective equipment to help keep the staff and the residents safe.
“After that, I had buddy shifts with other staff members for a couple of weeks until I was confident about going it alone and they could see I was ready.
“But the training doesn’t stop there. We have access to regular courses to keep our knowledge and skills up to date and to reinforce the importance of teamwork. And my co-workers are very supportive, respectful and happy to pitch in if and when I need them.”
“With this knowledge and experience, I can travel anywhere in Australia and get a job. It doesn’t matter if you’re my age or just starting out in the workforce, this job can take you places. I love that.
“It’s a great option for people who want to travel,” said Herman.
Herman believes that the sector could definitely benefit from more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people joining the aged care workforce.
“Here, in Broome, we have Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in care. It’s good to know they are in a safe place and getting the care they need.
“I would encourage people of any age to give this job a go. You will be supported every step of the way with training, mentoring and buddy shifts at first to get used to the role. There are three or four different shifts in most (workplaces) so the hours can be very flexible.
“Once you’ve got some experience, you have so many job opportunities wherever you want to go right across the country.
“I’ve been here for 12 years now. It must be good,” said Herman.
One of the reasons people work in aged care is the benefits it brings to both the residents and themselves. For Herman, he loves the connection and sense of mutual trust he has with the older people in his care.
“When you have a genuine connection with an older person they know, even if their eyesight or hearing is low, you come to them with an honest and open heart and they are happy to trust their care to you. That’s enormously rewarding and something that is missing from so many other jobs.”