From artist to disability support worker: how skills transfer – Katherine’s disability support story
In Korea, Katherine was an artist – a painter, with exhibitions every year.
With a self-described adventurous character, she decided to move to Australia and make a life here.
Twenty-seven years on, she now uses her skills as an artist and painter in her role as a disability support worker.
“I do art therapy with a lot of the people with disability that I support. It allows us to talk and do something together that they enjoy, and I know about,” she says.
One of those people is Andrew, who shares Katherine’s Korean heritage.
“Andrew and I have done art therapy together. He loves to try new things. He suggests things to me too – he said why don’t we do singing therapy, I said we can try!”
Much of Katherine’s role with Andrew is about supporting him through regular daily activities and helping him achieve his goals – whatever they may be.
For example, she might take him out for exercise at the park, go driving, have lunch at a restaurant or other social activities. It’s about keeping Andrew engaged with the world and supporting him to contribute to it.
“In this job, you work with different people, different characters. It’s our job to support them to live their life how they want,” she says.
She believes it’s important that new and potential workers in the care and support sector understand the role and consider how their transferable skills and interests can make a difference.
Katherine’s career has continued to grow and evolve in Australia. After working with multicultural communities with her service provider, she studied the equivalent of a Certificate IV in Lifestyle and Health.
“I did a work placement as part of my studies and got a job right after finishing.”
While working, Katherine continued to study and build her skills. Now she has more than ten qualifications, including a Master’s degree in Christian Counselling, and has been promoted to HR Manager.
“In my role now, I can use my skills in counselling to help support the other disability support workers,” says Katherine.
“I help train the new workers by showing them what to do, how to work with people living with disability – it’s very important they have that support,” she says.
Working in a small organisation, she’s also able to maintain her connection and work in a hands-on capacity with the people she supports. It’s a diverse and rewarding role, which has suited Katherine’s skills and interests.
Discover more stories about working in aged care, disability, or veterans’ support.