The look on his face was priceless. The watered flowed over his feet, then his legs before splashing on his chest. Pure joy, the kind of emotion money cannot buy.
This played out on Bondi Beach; it was a summer afternoon in mid December. The crowds as they typically do, frolicked in the searing hot sun seemingly unaware of each other, too involved in their own worlds. This event however, changed this insular activity.
The boy whose face was described as showing ‘pure joy’ was wheeled in a specially designed wheelchair down the beach to the water, his smile gradually growing broader the closer he got. His friend and pusher of his chair, unwavering in the commitment he provided. Every eye was drawn to his actions.
Reaching the water, the chairs large empty wheels gave buoyancy not possible with a normal wheelchair. The water lapping over his waist, his smile was brighter than the sun above us.
This event has long been etched in my mind, a memory I will never forget but one I only recently understood.
As it turns out, the boy’s friend was a disability support worker, someone employed to assist those living with a disability. This sort of practical love is something I didn’t know could be directly applied in one’s working life. I did some research, disability services Australia has incredible reach and application.
With millions of Australians living with a disability it’s no surprise.
What is a disability support worker?
A person employed to provide care and support to people with an intellectual and/or physical disability. This can be provided in the person’s home, in the community or in any established facilities or shared homes for people such as this.
The work is not always easy, but the rewards are attractive. Flexibility is the most important aspect required for this job as the needs of the people being helped will certainly always vary.
What other type of support is available?
Specialised disability employment services have been established across Australia designed to place people with a disability in the workplace. These services not only provide employment opportunities to the disabled but a sense of worth, confidence and a social outlet.
Employers also benefit from the process…
- Employees with disabilities often have better attendance and safety records.
- Employees with disabilities often have a lower staff turnover, saving precious funds on recruitment and training.
- The employment of workers with disabilities is often viewed positively by co-workers, therefore increasing the morale and mood of the workplace.
- Access to a growing and some cases, untapped resource of employees.
- Varying your workforce means a better understanding of your customers. Customers come from every walk of life, so it makes sense that your staff does too. By employing those with and without a disability, you service yourself a better chance of connecting on some level with your consumer base.
One such agency is Disability WORKS Australia, and can be referred to for more information on the details provided above.
Respite refers to time allocated to the primary carers of someone living with a disability. Considering their role is a twenty-four hour role, any time away from this is viewed as precious. A disability support worker will either come to the home or the clients will meet elsewhere. For a predefined amount of time the carer is relieved of their responsibility. Free to do as they please. It is worth noting this means typically doing household chores, something that’s hard whilst caring full time for someone living with a disability.
I will never forget the smile on that boys face, nor will I forget that this type of care can thankfully be a full time role.
Joanne Lemke is a final year creative writing student at UOW, who is looking to break into the corporate copywriting space once she graduates and hopefully go on to eventually some day write a book around her other passions, namely beauty, cooking and travel.