Merimbula’s Kate Mustard went from working in a bakery and studying at TAFE NSW Bega, to a career in a $50 billion industry in less than one year.
The 22-year-old was yet to graduate from the Diploma of Community Services when she was successfully interviewed for a job by one of the region’s growing community service providers.
Australia’s ageing population is driving demand for workers in the care sector, and Bega Valley and the Far South Coast have not escaped that same influence.
Nationally the community services sector employs more than 600,000 people, according to IBISWorld industry research. As regional centres like Bega grow in population the pressure is on for care service providers to employ qualified people to meet the growing demand.
Ms Mustard said that TAFE NSW training provided her with the nationally recognised qualifications demanded by the community services industry and that she was pleasantly surprised to be entering the workforce so quickly after enrolling.
Above: Kate Mustard and TAFE teacher Stephen Reed
“This Diploma gave me the skills and the confidence to work with people who have a mental health diagnosis.”
She is now a Mental Health Community Support Worker, helping people with a mental health diagnosis to live full and enriched lives.
“We learned a lot of industry-specific skills and, being a Diploma level qualification, we learned about management roles in the sector too, which is something I’d like to explore further at some point.”
Cabrini d’Arcy-Stewart looks after Wellways Consumer Directed Services for ACT and Southern NSW, covering Bega, Bombala, Crookwell, Goulburn and Cooma.
She divides her time between her former home town of Bega and the ACT.
“Growing up in Bega Valley, and returning to it now, I can see it has changed and grown so much. There are a lot more people living here,” Ms d’Arcy-Stewart said.
“That growth connects directly to this industry, there will always be people experiencing a crisis or living with mental health diagnosis, so there will always be a need for qualified people to work with them.”
She said Ms Mustard’s TAFE NSW qualifications enable her to work with participants who have a complex mental health diagnosis.
“She knows what she is doing and has made some really positive change to people’s lives,” Ms d’Arcy-Stewart said.
For information about nationally recognised qualifications for the growing community services sector, visit TAFE NSW Bega, phone 131 601 or go to www.tafensw.edu.au.