Proud Kamilaroi woman and mother of three, Kirsty Baggow, 30, took just six months to complete her Certificate III Individual Support before stepping into her dream job – helping mob in their everyday lives.

In a remarkable story, Kirsty dropped out of school at Grade 10, and fifteen years later while at an appointment at her local Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS) in Deception Bay, Queensland, Kirsty signed up for a course to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander elders and people with disability.

Through funding provided by the Queensland Government’s WorkAbility project, the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH) delivers vocational education and training in partnership with Educare College to build the NDIS workforce.

“I heard [about the course] a few years ago when I saw a poster at D-Bay clinic, but I had just had my third bub” she said.

“Being a mum of three kids with disability I have dealt with the NDIS before, and in my extended family. They were my motivation to do this [course].”

“Last year it popped in my head one day I should ask the clinic, so I asked the nurse.”

“My kids are all in school now, so I thought it’s time to put on my big girl boots and get into the workforce.”

“This was the opportunity I needed.”

Motivated for her mob

Kirsty enrolled to the Certificate III Individual Support with IUIH in October 2021 and through COVID-19 restrictions and local flooding disasters, powered on to finish her qualification.

In mid-March, 2022, she was signed off on her placement hours, and weeks later interviewed for the role of Support Worker at the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health Home Support Services for the North Brisbane region.

Kirsty is now employed as a casual Support Worker with IUIH and works up to 38 hours a week.

“What attracted me to do this? I have always been connected with mob; through my kids and Indigenous playgroups, being in community, helping with NAIDOC, and just talking to Elders – I love getting to know people.”

“I want to be out in community working – learning and helping.”

“I just see that the elderly in general their treatment should be better. I want to be that one person who makes a difference in their lives, even though making a cup of coffee of changing their bed sheets. To be any kind of support.”

Learning new skills later in life

Kirsty’s learning experience at IUIH has been a game-changer and a chance to practice her natural born skills and great interpersonal skills.
Despite her learning journey coming later in life she’s glad it happened that way.

“I came back to learn at a later age but it’s been easier for me that way,” she said.

“I can focus more, like I knuckle down and get my work done then I help out others. Doing it as part of a group we yarn and bounce of each other. Just learning that other people see things differently has all helped us with our bookwork.”

An important factor for Kirsty in her learning experience has been the dedicated support, encouragement and communication between course leader [Karen] and educator [John] along with her fellow students.

Her placement at IUIH provided a hands-on learning experience through buddy shifts where she was shown everything she needed to know.

“I make sure I come in with a good attitude and positive outlook, I always make sure I yarn with the elders and go the extra mile; always lending an ear and willing to help them with whatever they need.”

A bonus for Kirsty is that she has made lifelong friends with other students who have been part of the IUIH program.

“I honestly could not have done it without the support from the girls I did it with, they are family now and the connection that we all have, we have a bond.”

Find the career doing what you love

Kirsty’s story to becoming a support worker is an inspiration that careers can start at any point in life.

“I landed my dream job with IUIH and that is where I wanted to be from day dot,” Kirsty said.

“I always wanted to be here as it’s like family; you walk into a clinic, and they know who you are and that’s who I want to be for our mob.”

“The time I can spend with people and elders, I get to know them and have a conversation but also help them in my work, like washing away their bad day in the shower or helping them with the little things around the house that make a big difference.”

“I can walk into work and my clients can just light up my face.”

 

Kirsty will find out if her nomination has been successful in June.

For more information about this project click here 

For more information about the NTSSS project click here

Audience
Community Organisation or ACCHO, Employee, Student
Date published
April 26, 2022