PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE: THE KEY TO FORGING A CAREER IN DISABILITY
What it takes to make a career in disability – passion and industry exposure.
Flinders University Disability and Developmental Education student Christopher Lee has got what it takes to make a career in disability – passion and industry exposure.
Christopher Lee is completing his final year of the Bachelor of Disability and Developmental Education at Flinders after undertaking four diverse placements in the field.
“Being involved in so many practical experiences was fundamental in helping me develop the confidence needed to work in the professional field,” he says.
Christopher has worked with the Flinders University Community Re-Entry Program supporting adults with acquired brain injury, at the St Johns Grammar School special unit, and the YMCA Holdfast Bay Community Centre, where he investigated barriers faced by people with a disability in participating in the community.
His most recent placement was at Guiding Pathways, a Child Psychology and Behaviour Intervention Service.
“Partaking in a placement at Guiding Pathways was so rewarding, a big highlight was the ability to shadow a Senior Developmental Educator (DE) and experience a day in the life of a DE,” he says.
“Throughout placement I was able to participate in therapy sessions, work alongside children in DCP (Department Children Protection), record data and create practical resources (eg video self-modelling) to support a client's everyday life.”
A Developmental Educator is a multi-disciplinary health professional with expertise in fostering the skills, independence and quality of life for people with disabilities.
The Flinders four-year Bachelor of Disability and Developmental Education is the only undergraduate course in Australia to offer our graduates eligibility for full membership with professional accreditation with Developmental Educators Australia (DEAI).
Christopher’s work placements have allowed him to grasp an understanding of what it is like to work in in the fast-growing disability sector.
His Guiding Pathways placement provided him with a unique perspective on the disability industry when the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, allowing him to observe the shift within the sector during a challenging time.
“Being involved in a placement during the COVID-19 pandemic was an unprecedented learning experience,” Christopher says.
“Many of the therapy sessions/meetings needed to be modified to ensure the safety of the participants and staff.
“As a result, it was imperative to use creative ways to support clients (eg telehealth calls/ video conferencing).”
This provided Christopher with an insight into how the industry could change for years to come due to the pandemic’s wide-spread impact.
“While this experience was quite overwhelming, my supervisor showed me the importance of adapting quickly to varying circumstances, this is a necessary skill when working in the disability field,” he says.
Christopher’s experiences will continue to support him on his pathway to helping as many people as he can with disabilities to feel safe and inclusive in the community.
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