On 23 June, fifty year 12 and 13 students from six South Auckland secondary schools spent the day learning about the types of roles and unique benefits of working in the disability sector. The event was held in partnership with Careers New Zealand and Spectrum Care and aimed to encourage young people to consider a career in the health and disability sector.

Jade Farrar, strategic disability advisor at Te Pou, said more young people are needed in the workforce to meet the needs of disabled people. “By increasing the diversity of the workforce, more disabled people can be supported by people of a similar age and cultural background as them.”

Throughout the day, students moved through workshops which gave them opportunities to gain a better understanding of what it means to work in the sector, including insights from people with disabilities. Te Pou’s workshop, a Q&A panel, provided a safe place for students to ask questions they might not normally feel comfortable asking about disability or working in the sector. 

The panel was led by Jade Farrar, Kramer Hoeflich and Hannah Averill. The trio discussed the importance of inclusive attitudes and accessible communities, the role support workers play in their lives, and emphasised that having a disability isn’t a barrier to leading an extraordinary life. 

Kramer knew nothing about disability until the age of 15 when a spinal cord injury changed his life. “After becoming disabled, life for me didn’t stop. Life for me began right there,” he said.

Jade and Kramer described their ideal support worker as someone that helps them to be the best they can be. Jade said, “I want someone working with me who sees the real value in what I can bring. It’s about genuinely caring and having empathy.”

They explained that working as a disability support worker can be flexible and fit around other commitments and study. There are also plenty of opportunities to get out do fun, practical things like going to the movies or shopping.

“Every day is different. It keeps you on your toes and it’s really fun,” said Kramer. 

Students also practiced job interview skills with a speed interview workshop and learnt the basics of New Zealand sign language.

“Working in the disability sector is an awesome way for young people to kickstart a career in healthcare. Support workers help others to become more independent so people with disabilities can rely less on services and make more of their own decisions – it’s work that really means something,” said Jade.

Te Pou’s disability workforce development team hope to run more events like this in the future.