New to the sector? Consider volunteering…

Written by Lucy Randall

Every day as a Talent Officer with carecareers I speak to job seekers who are entirely new to the disability and community care sector. Their previous jobs may be in the corporate sector, in hospitality, retail or the arts – their reasons for change are as varied as their careers up to this point.

What the majority of these job seekers share in common is that they have little to no professional experience in the community sector, and making that change is universally intimidating.

After many years of maybe working in an office or retail environment, you may have been thinking yourself of giving direct support work, or another type of role in the sector, a try – but where to from here?

While carecareers advertises a vast array of roles, we frequently advise newcomers that when starting out in the sector they may like to consider frontline support positions – these are roles that most of the time involve working with clients one-on-one.

Essential requirements for these type of roles most often include a driver’s licence and a first aid certificate, and, above anything else, a good set of values – empathy, discretion and adaptability.

Even so, while making the change into the sector, with or without the need for qualifications you don’t currently have, making such a big change can feel like a big plunge.

Instead of taking such a big plunge you might want to take a small dip first. Volunteering for an organisation is one way of doing that and it’s a great opportunity to get a feel for the work available in the sector. It can also help you achieve a sense of where you may want to go in your disability or community care career.

Making yourself known to an employer as a volunteer is also an advantage – your sense of commitment may strike them when the next job vacancy comes up.

Taking on volunteering opportunities can ease your first steps into an entirely new role without the pressure of formal applications or interviews too. These opportunities can also give you a boost of experience for your resume, broaden your outlook on the type of work that is out there, and your experience may also help you discover skills you didn’t realise you had.

The best advice I’ve been given as a job seeker myself is create your own experience. All too often people I speak to undervalue the experience they’ve had. Callers to carecareers will begin by saying they have no experience in the community sector, but they then go on to mention they’ve been caring for a parent, that they’ve been facilitating community art classes or that they’re an experienced manager.

Knowing what you have to offer an organisation is vital when making an application, and volunteering is a way by which you can discover your own essential qualities.

Irrespective of the career benefits, volunteering can also be a very rewarding experience!

Getting started with volunteering

Try a volunteer job search on the carecareers website first. We have a number of volunteer roles being advertised at the moment from various organisations, including Recreation Rendezvous, Down Syndrome NSW and Eastern Respite & Recreation.

You might also like to read some of the stories in the True Stories section of the carecareers site – many people now working in the sector started off as volunteers.

If we can help you with a volunteering role please contact the Careers Centre – just call 1300 637 637 or you can email


Introducing Natalie Adams

Written by carecareers


My name is Natalie Adams and I am 22 years old. I am employed at Greenacres Disability Services and work in the production area, performing tasks such as labelling the Nads kits, packaging pasta jars, Revlon makeup and various other packaging jobs.

My trainer is Jess Toland and I like her as a friend, my best friend. Jess teaches me how to perform various tasks relating to the job at hand. Jess also helps me with problems relating to work and my personal life. She has a great sense of humour and I really like working with her.

I have made lots of new friends here at work. Their names are Tim, Matthew, Daniel and Alys and they are also my best friends. I have met many others as well.

Outside of work I act in drama classes with The Disability Trust and there are work friends there as well, like Brooke and Evan. I also play basketball with my friends, Tim and Matthew. I also like to knit, do some artwork and read books to help me relax.

I like getting up early and getting myself organised to go to work at Greenacres. Each day I look forward to seeing my work friends and my trainer, Jess.


We are all different

Written by Rachel Murphy

My name is Rachel Murphy and I am 28 years old and my disability is Down Syndrome. I am employed at Greenacres Disability Services where I work on packaging jobs, such as first aid kits, downlight kits, oyster lights and a wide range of other packaging and assembly tasks.

My case manager and trainer is John Russell and he is fantastic. John is trying to teach me to be humorous, as he is with me and all my workmates. We work well together, as I do with other staff members such as Debbie, Kathy, Greg and Stephen.

I have lots of good friends at work, some that I went to school with and others that I have met at work. My best friends at work are my serious boyfriend Damian and my best friend from school Vanessa, as well as Andrew. Then I met Chris and so many others at work.

When I am not working I act in the local drama group, Altogether Drama, and there are several work friends there as well, like Rachel, Tony and Belinda. I also like to knit and study my bible – this helps me calm down when I am stressed.

Greenacres is the best place to work because they have given me and all my work friends the opportunity to do worthwhile and interesting work. Everybody that works here has a disability, even some staff. We are all different, but treated as individuals, which is awesome.

That’s all for now. Talk to you soon.