Industry Insights into Disability Support Services

Do you love helping people? Why not become a disability support worker? 

Thanks to the recently established National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), health care and social assistance was expected to deliver a quarter of a million new jobs by 2024, although this was before Covid. 

Gateways Support Services and Encompass Community Services are currently recruiting with entry-level positions in the Geelong area. More good news is that you do not need a qualification but must be eager to work alongside people with a disability trying to live their best lives.

Passion and a great attitude are all you need to get started, as Jacinta Randall from Encompass and Bronwyn Sizer from Gateways told an online industry jobseeker forum hosted by the Gordon Skills and Job Centre on 18th February. 

Recruits can often work flexible hours with shifts which fit around study, children’s school pick up times or part-time work. They can especially suit career changers, parents returning to work and tertiary students studying allied health or teaching.  

It is essential to research organisations to see which suits you best. 

Gateways Support Services specialises in managing autism and ADHD with clients aged 2 to 92 and around 60 support workers to help them reach their goals. Staff work in either the organisation’s 22 accommodation settings, people’s homes, therapy sessions or accessing in the community, so a driver’s licence, first aid certificate and the ability to work independently are necessary. 

Bronwyn began in the industry as a classroom teacher interested in helping her special needs students before training adults with disabilities then into her current role as Individual Support and Recreation Manager at Gateways.  

Encompass caters to young adult school leavers and older participants who mostly attend day programs held from 9am to 3pm on weekdays. The Programs are based in Garden St, East Geelong to The Paddock, a 7-acre urban farm in Leopold, and social enterprises in Whittington such as Homestart Preloved Furniture and two opportunity shops. They also offer weekend respite, travel groups and several accommodation homes. 

Jacinta started at Encompass as a casual support worker in the day program before taking her full-time role, including welcoming and supervising placement students from many allied health courses. 

Jacinta said, “Support workers can use any personal skills and hobbies in sessions such as knitting and crafts, gardening, baking, farm work, ten pin bowling and other popular activities”. 

“This is not just a serious, caring industry. It is a lot of fun and not just one way,” said Bronwyn.  

Both organisations welcome volunteers, which can also become a pathway to work. For anyone inexperienced and lacking in confidence, this was the perfect way to gain insight into the role while accompanying paid staff to carry out their duties, Bronwen advised. 

Although entry-level support workers do not need a qualification, basic digital literacy skills and a drivers licence are essential for both organisations. Support is offered to work out how to use online timesheets, rosters and forms, accessed on an average smartphone or tablet. 

The minimum age for staff is 18 years old, and Bronwyn suggested that you will need to be available at least five hours per week for many employers, although this can be made up of shorter shifts. 

Both organisations offer recruits mentoring and encouragement to upskill to Certificate IV in Disability, provided locally at the Gordon TAFE and through other registered training organisations, including Encompass.  

What sort of person should apply for a position? 

Someone with a lot of patience, according to Jacinta, who said, “those who made the best support workers were people who were able to stand back and only step in once help was needed”. She explained the philosophy of Person Centered Active Support, which meant that a competent staff member would not take charge and chop an onion but rather talk someone through the process or provide hand over hand steadiness to allow them to chop it up themselves if that was needed.  

“They provide just enough assistance of the right kind to enable a person to succeed, in doing all or part of a task…You are supporting an individual to live their very best life,” she said. 

Jacinta recommended watching the late Stella Young’s Ted talk entitled ‘I am not your inspiration, thank you very much,’ for an insight into the social model of disability.  

“We want someone passionate, and we get a sense of that in your cover letter,” said Bronwyn, who interviews her potential staff. She added that active listening, good communication skills, flexibility and a “can-do” attitude are assets gained through previous roles in life, including parenting and studying or working in other industries. Transferrable skills like communication, risk management, customer service were essential to highlight in your application, plus any experience candidates had with friends or relatives living with a disability. 

Gateways have a strict process that allocated scores to cover letter, resume and key selection criteria documents. All must be written and checked before submission if you hope to be shortlisted and interviewed as a suitable candidate. 

“You will be nervous, but we understand and consider that. We are quite friendly, so try to let your personality out and get your passion across. We want your personality to shine,” said Bronwyn. 

Bronwyn’s tips for a great interview were: 

  • do your research into the organisation and its goals, the NDIA and the Disability Act, 
  • choose your referees well and advise them of the position you are applying for, 
  • be on time, 
  • look presentable, 
  • bring notes if needed. 

Host Lucinda Rodrigues, a careers practitioner, said that the Gordon Skills and Job Centre offered free: 

  • assistance and review of job applications, 
  • resume, key selection criteria, transferable skills and interview workshops, and 
  • private and confidential mock interviews. 

Fully qualified counsellors were available online and over the phone. 

So what are you waiting for? Get those applications in as soon as possible! 

Further references: 
Missed the session? Don’t worry, we recorded it! – Click Here
Gateways Support Services
Gateways Website – Here
Gateways Job Opportunities – Here

Encompass Community Services
Encompass Website – Here
Encompass Job Opportunities – Here

The Gordon- Skills and Jobs Centre
March Workshops: Coming soon. Keep an eye on our website here
Phone: 5225 0700
Book Appointment

Stella Young’s Ted talkHere

The Gordon – Certificate IV in Disability Here

Industry Insight into Early Childhood Education

On Tuesday the 29th of September the Skills and Jobs Centre teamed up with Wyndham City Council to deliver an Industry Insights Panel into the Early Childhood Education and Care sector.

We were excited to be joined by Sonija Smit, Service Excellence Lead with Wyndham City, and Sharleen Lancaster, State Manager from Sparrow Early Learning in Wyndham, to talk about the childcare industry, job opportunities, and recruitment and career pathways available. The passion Sonija and Sharleen have for the industry was evident in the virtual Zoom room, and was embraced by all attendees. What an amazing session to be involved in!

If you are currently studying childcare or are considering enrolling in a course at the beginning of 2021, keep reading, as there is valuable information that will help you decide if this industry is for you. If you have already decided that you want a career in childcare, you’ll find out about job opportunities and read some tips from the experts about the recruitment process.

What does it take to begin a career in childcare? If you are a nurturing and passionate person and enjoy building lifelong relationships, having fun and occasionally being a bit silly, this industry could be for you. Sonija explains that every day she leaves work feeling as though she has accomplished something, such as teaching a child something new like a developmental skill. It’s an extremely enriching career and keeps her coming back, even through the more challenging times.

Sharleen explained that some people are born with a natural ability to look after children; however, this doesn’t necessarily have to be a quality you have already. If you are persistent and apply yourself, this will come over time

Both panelists confirmed today that during the pandemic there were no jobs losses at their centres, and with people in the Wyndham area slowly returning to work, they are getting busier and are needing to recruit more staff.

With extra funding recently announced for the 3yo kinder, recruitment will begin in early 2021 for around 6000 more Early Childhood Teachers. It will be a staged approach across the country and state for the next 2-3 years.
This is a growth industry, with many centres looking to hire those with Certificate III, Diploma and Bachelor Early Childhood Education level qualifications. Now seems like the time to seriously consider the childcare industry as a career option.


Below are the types of roles available across the industry that you might be interested in:

  • Childcare Assistants (Certificate III or Diploma Qualification)
  • Room Leaders (Diploma Qualification required)
  • Team leader or Service Manager – On the floor teaching and office work (Bachelor of Early Childhood Education)  
  • Kindergarten Teachers – 3 and 4yo (Bachelor of Early Childhood Education)
  • Office administrators
  • In-training early years educators (Diploma Qualification, working towards ECT)
  • Cooks/Chefs

And there’s other employment opportunities in the childcare industry, such as nannies, out-of-school-hours coordinators, Family Day Care assistants and more…  

What are they looking for when hiring?

  • Include your past work or volunteering history on your resume. Recruiters want to see that you have had experience working with other people, not necessarily only in the Early Childhood Education industry.
  • Your resume does not need to be long, 1-2 pages is enough.
  • Include a Cover Letter.
  • Give detailed answers in your Selection Criteria.
  • Try to align your selection criteria answers/and cover letter content with examples that reflect the vision and values of the organisation to which you are applying to.
  • Always be yourself in the interview! Its ok not to know everything about the job, ask questions and show you are willing to learn.
  • If English is your second language, that’s great, as centres embrace diversity and love being able to expose children to different cultures and languages. It’s so important now for our children to become global citizens and both Sonija and Sharleen expressed the importance of children hearing and learning different languages.

To view upcoming job opportunities with Wyndham City follow this link:

Or Sparrow Early learning here:

Career pathway resources:

Placement opportunities with Wyndham City:

Skills and Jobs Centre:

If you are currently completing your qualification in Early Childhood Education and need assistance preparing your resume, cover letter, selection criteria or getting ready for that all important interview, get in contact with the Skills and Jobs Centre to organise a free appointment for support from one of our qualified Careers Advisors, phone 5225 0700 or email us at

Getting your foot in the door..

How do I get my foot in the door you may ask?

Many of us have secured a job by connecting with a prospective employer – maybe it was tapping into an existing network, maybe it was cold calling, maybe it was through volunteering or social media…

It all takes courage, a plan and persistence!

Tapping into your network

Don’t be afraid. Remember, you’re asking for advice to assist you in job searching, not asking for a job, and most people will be flattered and supportive.  Your network can assist you in your job search by providing some really important information regarding current industry knowledge, skills and qualities the employer values, as well as referrals and linking you to possible upcoming opportunities.

You could start by reaching out to those people who know and respect you, including past colleagues or employers, family and acquaintances, as well as using any online professional networks you may have to make sure they know that you are genuinely looking for a new job or even a new career.

This is where planning and researching becomes oh, so important.

  1. Create a list of past employers, suppliers, personal and professional contacts.
  2. Ensure your online profile (if you have one) is up to date and reflects that you are in the market for a new career opportunity.
  3. Be prepared – modify and showcase your resume to reflect your skills and experience to match the organisations and industries you are interested in.

Cold Calling

Cold calling is another way for you to contact employers directly.  This may be over the phone, by email or in person.  You need to research a company or organisation thoroughly to ensure you are identifying employers relevant for your career needs and aspirations, and ensuring your skills and experiences are a match. Again, if you are planning to send or provide a cover letter and your resume, it should be professional and tailored each time you contact an employer.

And finally, I would recommend taking the time to develop a script for yourself to ensure you are confident when you introduce yourself. Prepare and practice, then follow up.  Here are five golden tips for cold calling.

Written by Lucinda, our new Networking Superstar. If you need help with getting your foot in the door, make a time to talk to Lucinda or any of the Skills and Jobs Centre advisors. 

Will a potential employer really look me up on social media?

Short answer. Yes, yes they will!!

The majority of employers will now check a potential employee’s online presence during the hiring process. So it’s a good idea to do a bit of research on yourself, find out what they are going to see and make sure that’s something you want to future boss to see!

  1. Google yourself

This is the first step! Find out what comes up when you google yourself and what you might need to change. Make sure to check the photo section! If there is anything that might make you look bad in the eyes of a future employer, get rid of it. If in doubt, chuck it out!

  1. Check your privacy settings

Login to all of your accounts and double check your privacy settings. If you are using social media primarily for personal reasons, it’s a good idea to have a private profile, so only friends can view what you post.

  1. Showcase your skills

If you are able to photograph or write about skills relevant to your job, think about having a public account specifically for this use. Allow it to be searchable and consider putting links in your job application.

  1. Maintain an appropriate online presence

Even once you’ve got the job, it’s still important to remember to be careful about what you are posting online and who is able to see it. Most companies will have a social media policy, so it’s a good idea to find out what it is and make sure what you are posting is in line with your company’s policy.

  1. Be careful what you write about work

Don’t bad mouth your previous employer or job on social media channels. And especially don’t bad mouth your current employer. There’s no quicker way to get yourself hauled into the HR office!

Rule of thumb: If you wouldn’t want your grandmother to see it (and if you have a tech-savvy grandmother like mine who will actually see it), don’t post it on social media!

Written by our social media guru, Tracey. If you need help checking your social media for your job search, make an appointment to see Tracey or one of our helpful advisors.

How to use Instagram in your job search!

Have you ever thought about using Instagram in your job search? No, neither had I!

But what a great way to showcase your work to any potential employers or customers.

During a presentation, we were told a story about a barista who was headhunted by another café after they saw photos of the coffees he was making. This was the first time I considered using Instagram as a tool to promote yourself and what you have to offer to potential employers.

If you have something tangible to show, it’s a great (and free) way to get yourself out there. The most obvious are artists or people in creative roles. However, you could be showcasing beer that you have brewed or animals that you look after in your volunteer role. Think outside the box as to the pictures you could take to show off your skills but also a bit of your personality. It can give any potential employers the opportunity to see what you are like as a person and what you are passionate about through the photos you post.

If you want to make the most of your Instagram account for profiling your work:

  • Make sure your profile is on public so that people can actually see it! Make sure what you are posting is suitable for the whole world to see. A photo of you partying on the weekend in amongst photos showcasing your knowledge of conservation probably isn’t the best look!
  • Consider setting up a separate ‘professional’ Instagram account. Use it specifically for showcasing your work.
  • Follow companies you are interested in working for. These will show on your profile and you’ll find the company may also start following you back.
  • Follow others in your area. Instagram can be a great way to gain inspiration for your work and to keep up to date with what others in your field are doing. It could also provide a platform for networking and collaboration.
  • Think about how often you post. It’s important to post enough to show that you are active but not so much that you are clogging your followers news feed!!
  • Consider your current employer. Remember they can also see your public profile. Make sure you have the appropriate permissions to post any images.

As well as profiling your own talents, Instagram is a great way to do some research to find the more ‘fun’ side of a potential employer. If you could drop it into your interview about their ‘Wing Wednesday’ or monthly birthday celebration, it gives you an opportunity to bond with the interviewer, but also to show them that you would fit in with their culture. Most companies are on Instagram now, so it’s a perfect opportunity to find out some information you wouldn’t find on their website!

Happy Instagramming!

Written by our social media guru, Tracey. If you’d like assistance with incorporating social media in your job search, make an appointment with Tracey or book in to her Becoming a Standout Applicant workshop. 

Would you make a warm call?

Last week when I shared my blog post ‘So you think the only way to apply for a job is online?’ on my personal Facebook site I was really just showing off that I am a real blogger now!!

However, I found it very interesting the number of people who commented and who actually read my post! I was surprised to see that many of my friends were in this same situation, and I hadn’t realised.

I had been surprised when I heard the story from my beauty therapist, and at the time thought this to be an unusual situation, but it turns out it may not be as unusual after all.

A Canadian friend of mine is a lawyer and looking for work in Australia. In her words, ‘I was busting my ass applying and interviewing for online jobs. But I ended up cold calling a law firm and just got a full time job!’ (Well done, Kora!)

So, I thought it timely to share some tips about how to make the perfect cold call.

You may be able to score yourself a job by making random phone calls, however your chance of success will be higher if you take a more targeted approach, a warm call!

Do your research

Choose companies that mirror your values and are places you genuinely want to work. You’ll have an easier time talking to someone if you can show a real interest in their company. Spend some time on the company’s website and also on any social media sites to get a good understanding of who they are and what you have to offer them.

Try to find the right person to talk to

Again, research is the key here. Try to find a shared connection that could make an introduction. If not, find out who is the best person to speak to. If you can get past reception to the person with the power to make a hiring decision, you’ll give yourself a better chance of a job opportunity.


It’s a great idea to have a practice, especially if you are not confident on the phone. What is it that you want that person to know about you? It’s helpful to write a script so that you have something to refer to if you get stuck to make sure you get your point across. There’s nothing worse than hanging up the phone and then remembering what you wanted to say!

Keep it short!

Everyone’s busy, so when you get the opportunity to talk to someone, make sure you get to the point quickly, but politely! Ask if this is a good time and if it’s not, suggest to call back at another time.

Say thank-you!!

Whether it is a successful phone call or not, make sure you are polite and thank the person for taking the time to speak to you. While there may not be an opportunity now, try to leave a lasting impression so that you will be in the person’s mind if an opportunity does come up.


Do what you say you are going to do. If they are busy and ask you to call back, then call back when you agreed to! We know how busy people are, so don’t be disheartened by a lack of interest or failure to return your call. Persistence can pay off, so follow up on a phone call that hasn’t been returned or a message you have left.

Yes, it takes a bit of confidence. But if you are well prepared and target your calls to companies that are a good fit for you, it can pay off. And if it ends in a job you’ll love, I think it’s worth putting yourself out there.

Written by our social media guru, Tracey Jeffery. If you’d like some help to make a warm call, make an appointment with Tracey or book in to her ‘Becoming a Standout Application’ workshop.

So you think the only way to apply for a job is online?

Think again!

Last night as I was getting my nails done, I was speaking to the new beauty therapist about how she came to be working at this salon. And her story was an interesting one!

Did she apply online? No.

Did she wait for an ad to go up in the paper? No.

She decided she wanted to make the move to Geelong, so she showed some initiative and started calling some salons. When she phoned this particular salon, the owner mentioned she’d just had a position become vacant and that she was actually looking for someone.

Talk about being in the right place at the right time! She started work the next week and is a perfect fit for the salon. By putting herself out there, she managed to secure a job opportunity in the perfect salon for her.

When I asked her how many places she had called, I was expecting her to say she had made lots of phone calls. However, she received this job offer on only her third phone call. She completed some research and specifically targeted salons that she was interested in and that she knew would fit well with her personality and her experience.

I was so impressed with what she had done, but wondered if this is something that I would do myself if I was in this situation. I’m not sure that I would. But this shows that it can definitely pay off.

So, as you go about your job search, consider if you should be putting yourself out there a bit more (it’s hard I know!) and cold calling some companies or businesses that you are interested in. I think it’s important to do some research into who they are and think about what you have to offer them, rather than just picking up the phone book and calling randomly.

If you can skip a lengthy online application process and substitute it for a phone call, I think it’s worth a shot!

Written by our social media guru, Tracey Jeffery. To perfect your cold calling script, make an appointment with Tracey or book in to her ‘Becoming a Standout Application’ workshop.

What would you say if you were in an elevator with your CEO?


You’ve probably all heard of the elevator pitch, but have you ever thought about what you would really say if you were in the elevator with your CEO? Would you be too nervous and look at your feet? Would you make polite chit-chat? Or would you say something that would make an impact?

A university colleague of mine was working in administration at a company and was interested in moving up into a Finance role. One morning he was faced with the opportunity to speak to his CEO when they entered the elevator together. He wished him good morning and then proceeded to introduce himself and explain what he did at the company (‘I work for you in accounts’) and his aspirations for progression in the company.

What do you know? He now works in Finance!!

We can often be scared of hierarchy. I don’t know if I would have the guts to say something like that to my CEO. When I asked him what made him do that, he said ‘Why not?’ What a great question. Why not? If we aren’t promoting ourselves, no-one else will!

So, what is an elevator pitch?

A short statement that can be used to sell yourself to people, including potential employers.

And, why should you have one?

To differentiate yourself! It’s great when networking and gives you a statement you can use to let someone know about you and what you can offer. You never know what opportunities they may have coming up, or who else they might know!

Features of an elevator pitch

  • 30 seconds or less
  • Clear and easy to understand
  • Authentic & real
  • Your passions
  • Your strengths
  • Your values
  • What’s different about you
  • What you can offer

So, start thinking about what your elevator pitch would be and what you will say next time you’re in the elevator with your CEO or at a networking event with a potential employer. Why? Why not?!

Written by our social media guru, Tracey Jeffery. Make an appointment with Tracey for more information, or book in to one of our workshops.