Wednesday, 5 June 2013


Get the real story on what it is like to work in  the industry from  someone who works with those at risk of homelessness. 


What attracted you to working in the community service sector?   
I actually fell into the role by chance, being in an abusive marriage and seeking help lead me to develop an interest in counselling which then lead me into other areas of community service.  I have never felt any desire to leave community service work 

  What qualifications are necessary to deal with the requirements of the job?  
It depends of the area of community service you chose to work in.  I have qualifications in Aged Care, Gerentology, Alcohol and other Drugs, Community Services, Mental Health, Disability, Psychology, Sociology and OHS.  Life experience is often taken into account for those without qualifications and often a person is employed and then trained. 

What has been your most challenging moment?  
Definitely making the change from working with Multicultural Aged clients to working with AOD clients, although there is a parallel between all types of clients in community services.  The issues of PSTD, Addictions, Helplessness and Homelessness, Abuse and Misrepresentation is a theme in the majority of vulnerable groups 

What sort of pay can you expect working  in community services?  
 This depends on the region/state one works in as well as the level of grading aimed for.  For the coal face workers the pay is less than in other ‘white collar’ workers, moving into management roles brings higher salaries but removes the worker from regular interaction with the client group they chose to work with.  The general understanding is that no one, other than high level management, ever got rich working in community service. 

What kind of roles or career paths would be considered community services?  
 There are so many career paths in community service it depends largely upon where the individual wishes to be.  The company I work with has Youth, Mental Health, AOD, Homelessness, Employment, Childcare, Financial Counselling, Community Development programs so the choice is varied. 

What type of personality is needed I
 Incredibly patient and flexible!  Community Service workers need the ability to accept individuals without judgement and to understand that no outcome is ever guaranteed.  It can take a thick skin to work in this field, clients in crisis can be particularly tunnel visioned and centred on their own issues and not even notice or acknowledge when the worker has achieved something significant for them.  This doesn’t always happen and often the clients are grateful and appreciative though. 

Where can people go to get experience to gain employment in a community services role?  Most community service organisations are happy to have volunteers join them for any period of time the volunteer wishes to nominate.  Volunteering is a great way to gain experience in several different sectors to determine exactly where the individual prefers. 

What kind of rewards can you expect from a career in this industry?  
Knowing that you have personally helped to make a difference in an individuals life is a heady reward.  I have had clients who have been on the brink of suicide who have managed to turn their lives around and succeed and knowing that I was present during this change is an amazing feeling.  In aged care I got a lot of chocolate and cups of tea!! 

What courses should I be considering to have a career in community services?  
The best course to start with would be Cert IV in Community Services to get a feel for the sector and then chose to specialise if desired.  If you already have a strong leaning toward a particular sector then study in that area.  When I first started studying for Community Service I had no idea where exactly I wanted to work so I started with and AssDip in Community Work, this lead me to the aged sector where I felt most comfortable, I spent 7 years in this study completing my BA major Psych, sub major Sociology and GD in Gerentology and yet with a change of living area I transitioned into Mental Health and AOD and started studying again. 

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