It comes as job growth for disability support workers is predicted to increase by 25 per cent over the next five years.
50-year-old mum-of-three Meridie Ward is one of many graduates opting to make a meaningful impact in the lives of individuals with disabilities later in life. After studying a Diploma of Nursing at TAFE NSW Ultimo, she now works as a Disability Support Worker at Scope Australia.
“I spent 25 years working as a bookkeeper, but once all my kids finished school and went onto their next stage of life, I realised it was time to follow my passion too. Turning 50 was a wake-up call. Life is short, and I thought, ‘if not now, then when?’” Ward said.
“I hadn’t studied for decades, but TAFE NSW offered me a lifeline and an entry point to study. It took a lot of courage to start studying after so long out of the classroom, but I was so happy to be among like-minded people of all different ages.
“I’m so glad I took the brave step to follow my dreams. The course has given me the practical skills and qualifications I need to have a diverse and rewarding career. After completing work placement as an Assistant in Nursing during the course and working as an Enrolled Nurse, I am now working casually as a Disability Support Worker.
“I’ve overcome some hurdles to get where I am, including some life-changing events, but the support of my teachers and classmates has been invaluable. I still catch up regularly with the dear friends I made during my course. I love working casually, and spending time one one-on-one supporting clients and being a part of their everyday lives.”
TAFE NSW Nursing Studies Teacher, Michelle Toohey said mature-aged graduates like Meridie are in demand.
“TAFE NSW is committed to closing emerging skills gaps and providing accessible, hands-on training that empowers individuals to make a difference in their communities,” Toohey said.
“Mature aged graduates bring unique life experiences, resilience, and empathy to their roles, which helps them effectively contribute to the compassionate care that individuals living with a disability deserve.
“Importantly, Meridie’s story shows it’s never too late to follow your passion and switch careers with the help of quality education and training.”