Having provided care and support for members of her own family with a disability during that time, Debbie has always found her job satisfaction through, what she terms as, “People-centred Careers”.
Today, Debbie’s major role within the Disability Services Sector is all about making connections.
“My role consists of bringing people together”, says Debbie. “Connecting staff with resources and other service providers and connecting people with disabilities to opportunities that increase their social integration, skill and sense of community.”
The Samaritan Foundation, (or “Samaritans”), a central social welfare ministry of the Anglican Church within the Diocese of Newcastle has been in operation since the last century. Beginning its work as a point of emergency relief in the early 1980’s, the organisation today has over 100 support services, 450 volunteers and 700 staff.
As a local registered National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) support provider throughout the Hunter, Newcastle and Central Coast, Samaritans provide a key role in community and social welfare services.
As someone who has cared for members of her own family with a disability, Debbie understands the importance of her role within Samaritans to co-ordinate and support social and community based services for families in need.
“My career has enabled me to link people with a disability as well as their family and carers with a wide range of essential services that even 20 years ago simply didn’t exist.”
Debbie’s day-to-day work includes connecting service users with accommodation, respite and living skills programs as well as child, family and mental health support throughout the region.
“The work of Samaritans, and my role within the organisation is all about inclusion. My job satisfaction comes from finding opportunities for greater community integration for people with a disability and their families.”
Citing an example, Debbie mentions two young brothers, both with severe Autism, who were living in relative isolation simply because they were not aware of the services and options available to them.
“With NDIS funding we were able to link them to group activities with peers and enable them to access their local community. Not only were they now able to access support services, my work enabled them to develop independent friendships and relationships beyond the home and within the broader community.”
The last 10 years have seen considerable growth in the number of people engaged in community service sector.
Between 2000-01 and 2010-11, the number of people employed in community service has increased by 51%
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the largest of those industry sectors has been in Residential Care Services which alone employs over 204,000 people, 84% of which are women. A further 75% across all social service sectors are also women.
When asked why Debbie has continued in this career path for more than two decades, she replied, “I thoroughly enjoy working for an organisation that is committed to a person-centred approach as well as the support I receive to enable me to do my job.”