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Working in community services: make a difference in the lives of vulnerable people

by Chloe Baird

There is a high demand for Community Services Workers in Australia right now.

Community services is one of the largest industries in Australia. According to the Australian Industry and Skills Committee, there were approximately 1.7 million people employed in community services in 2020. This number is set to grow to more than 1.9 million by 2024.

If you’re looking for a job that can offer you growth, opportunity and fulfillment, then a career in community services could be it.

Read on to discover what is involved in working in community services, why it’s important and how you can make a difference in the lives of vulnerable people.

How can you make a difference working in community services?

What are community services?

Community services are services that are designed to help the public. They can be run by both government and non-government agencies. For example, some community services are run by local, state or federal government agencies; while others are run by organisations such as Wesley Mission, the Asylum Seekers Centre and the St Vincent De Paul Society.

The services they offer vary and usually target a specific group of people. For example, elderly people, people living with a disability, vulnerable children or women fleeing domestic violence.

Community services provide emergency housing, food relief, mental health, counselling, health clinics, child care services, aged care support, disability support and other services.

How does a Community Services Worker help the community?

Community Services Workers help a wide variety of people struggling with different issues. Most Community Services Workers will have a particular area they specialise in, such as working with children or with people living with drug and alcohol disorders.

The type of assistance a Community Services Worker can provide will depend on the client and the type of assistance the client needs. Primarily, though, the focus is on building healthy relationships with your clients, helping them to reach their goals and helping them improve their overall wellbeing.

For those who work in aged care support, your main duties and responsibilities will probably revolve around helping your elderly clients with household chores (if they’re living at home), personal care, running errands and similar tasks. You could also assist elderly people in the community by organising social events and activities to help keep people connected and active.

However, if you work with people who are facing financial hardship, the kind of help you provide will be quite different. You may work with clients to help them improve their financial situation by offering advice, linking them with services that can assist or helping them to find employment.

What areas do Community Services Workers work in?

Here are some of the areas you could specialise in as a Community Services Worker:

  • Aged care support
  • Mental health and counselling
  • Child protection
  • Family services
  • Disability support
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander services.

As you can see, there are plenty of different areas you could choose to focus on. And this gives you the flexibility to find a niche that you truly feel passionate about.

Community services has many different sectors within it, including aged care support, disability support and child care.

Why are community services important?

LinkedIn’s 2021 ‘Jobs on the Rise’ report listed a number of community services roles as being the most in-demand jobs in Australia right now.  This includes Youth Workers, Social Services Specialists, Childcare Workers and Case Managers.

Community services are incredibly important for a number of reasons:

1. Make a real difference in the lives of vulnerable people

Community services support vulnerable people in the community who otherwise might not be able to get the help they need. This could be in the form of counselling, connecting them with the right kind of services, or simply enabling them to connect with other people in similar situations.

Working in community services has its challenges. But it also gives you the opportunity to make a real impact in the lives of vulnerable members of the community and build healthy relationships with your clients.

Even if at first you don’t see major changes with your clients, just remember that the results of your hard work may not be immediately obvious. Even a small change in someone’s life can make a big difference later on.

2. Advocate for the rights of others

Some people have a naturally strong sense of social justice. They believe in fighting for the rights of others and for standing up for what they believe in, and they support those who may not be able to stand up for themselves.

As a Community Services Worker, you can use your position and platform to help break down the social, legal and economic barriers that are working against your clients.

Working in community services allows you to use your voice, influences and connections to fight for the rights of your clients.

3. Help people in remote areas

Community services aren’t just needed in big cities – they’re needed everywhere. Sometimes, people in remote locations aren’t able to access the support they need.

By becoming a Community Services Worker, you can find work just about anywhere. But by working in a regional town, you’re able to help support people who don’t have access to the same kind of resources often available in metro cities.

The social impacts of volunteering are not only good for the community, but good for your mental wellbeing as well.

The social impact of volunteering in community services

If you have a real interest in helping others, this doesn’t necessarily mean you have to make it your career. You can opt to make a difference by volunteering in community services.

Alternatively, if you are considering following a career in community services volunteering could be a great way for you to dip your toe in the water before you start looking for paying jobs.

Volunteering for a cause that you care about can be both enjoyable and fulfilling. It can also be beneficial for your mental health. Volunteering is important because you’re not only helping others, but you’re improving your own wellbeing, too.

Volunteering can:

  • help you build healthy relationships with like-minded people with similar values and interests
  • allow you to give back to the community
  • give you a sense of purpose
  • gain new skills and experiences
  • improve your confidence and self-esteem.

Why study community services?

If you’re looking to study a course in community services, OC can help.

We offer the CHC52015 Diploma of Community Services as an online course or as an on-campus course (for students in SA or WA only).

Obtaining a CHC52015 Diploma of Community Services will provide you with the necessary skills and knowledge you need to make a real impact on the lives of vulnerable people.

What are you waiting for? Enrol in an online or on-campus course today with OC.

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