In 2000 my year 12 careers counsellor told me she had organised a student placement for me at an organisation that supported people with disabilities. The company was known back then as Central Bayside Disability Services; located at 1253 Nepean Highway, Cheltenham. Tentatively I accepted.
Little did I know what followed was going to expand nearly two decades.
On my first shift, I remember walking up the driveway, past the bus full of clients and through the front doors. I was as nervous as anything, with thoughts of, what am I doing and, I can’t be responsible for other people.
All I knew about people with disabilities was what I’d experienced helping fellow students at school – nothing in comparison to what I was about to experience.
The staff and clients at Central Bayside were all very welcoming and lovely, and probably a bit skeptical of a year 12 student – fair enough too!
Senior Managers, Peter Spyker and Julie Torcasio were also very welcoming and comforting on my first day, a few laughs were shared and immediately I felt myself relax more.
The staff didn’t hesitate to throw me in the deep end and immediately I was supporting people with very different abilities in all aspects of their lives both physically, emotionally and personally.
That was my first introduction to the world of people living this life, it didn’t take me long to realise how much I was going to enjoy being part of the Central Bayside family.
Fast forward nearly 20 years, some ups and downs, personal milestones and growth and many changes within the disability field.
In 2017 I made another big decision and with lots of support and encouragement, I am now in a leadership role as a Senior Client Support Professional at the CBCHS Cheltenham site.