Pair find purpose in life through CQUni's Diploma of Community Services course

Published:08 January 2020

Diploma of Community Services students Ryan Wakeling (top) and Emmanuel Garza have found employment while studying a Diploma of Community Services at CQUniversity.

Ryan Wakeling and Emmanuel Garza might live hundreds of kilometres apart, but they’ve both swapped their careers to enter the community services industry and change others’ lives for the better.

Both Ryan and Emmanuel have found employment since taking up a Diploma of Community Services with CQUniversity.

Ryan, who originally hails from Whyalla in South Australia, felt under appreciated in his old job, but enjoyed being able to help others.

“There were parts of the job that I did enjoy and they mainly revolved around helping clients during a difficult time,” Ryan said.

“With that in mind I started looking around for positions with a client-empowering focus like community services.”

Ryan realised he needed a qualification and quickly enrolled at CQUniversity, undertaking his studies online which he said worked well for him.

One of his work placements was in Adelaide at the Lutheran Disability Services (LDS).

“I knew I wanted to work in disability, so I contacted LDS and arranged it myself with the help of my lecturers,” he said.

“The placement was great and I was able to apply some of the theoretical knowledge from the course into my work practices. At the end of my placement I was offered a position with the organisation, which I accepted.

“At this point I was only half way through my diploma, so it was really reassuring to know that I already had enough desirable skills, experience and education to be offered a position.”

Eventually Ryan took a bold step of moving to the Northern Territory, where he continued his online studies and found new employment with Anglicare.

“I am currently employed with Anglicare NT in their Disability Community Access program,” he said.

“Part of my reasoning for moving to the Northern Territory is because there are certain social and community issues very isolated to the Northern Territory and I wanted to see and experience the barriers members of the community face,” he said.

“I also felt that I had the open-mindedness and determination to empower those I work with to bring about positive change in their lives. So far, I have received positive feedback from my employers that I action this regularly in my work.

“To me a personal motivator in the work I do is to feel like I’m able to make a positive change in someone’s life. Community services allows me to come to work and leave at the end of the day feeling positive about what I have done.”

Emmanuel’s circumstances were similar to Ryan’s wherein he was wanting a change of pace – and direction.

“I had been working in marketing for some time and I liked dealing with people in my old career, so I thought about doing community services,” he said.

“There was one person from my old job who’d left to do get a bachelors in social work, but I wasn’t prepared to commit to that academic journey – I wanted to do something more practical.”

Being based in Sydney, Emmanuel found that he was able to quickly put the diploma theory into practice at one of the Salvation Army’s crisis accommodation centres.

“I was able to secure a work placement there two days a week, supporting staff, participating in intake, case management, making beds, answering the phone and talking to residents and visitors,” he said.

“The placement gave me a comprehensive insight into what community services does.

“I’d volunteered to help asylum seekers and charities before, but the placement gave me a bigger understanding of the issues people are facing around mental health – and the centre was a place I walked past nearly every day for years near where I lived.”

Emmanuel was quickly offered a job with the Salvation Army as a casual support facilitator, but he was still able to keep studying thanks to the flexibility of the course.

“The course gave me the theoretic fundamentals of what’s expected at a facility like a crisis centre,” he said.

“You can do the course, but you don’t really know what it’s like until you experience and see it face-to-face.”

Both Ryan and Emmanuel encouraged people considering a career in Community Services to study with CQUni.

“In my area of work being Disability the NDIS is really ramping up so more people are realising that there is growth and sustainable work,” Ryan said.

“My teacher Renee was always supportive even before started at the Salvation Army – she made me feel supported whilst I did the placement. I’ll be finishing my Diploma very soon,” Emmanuel said.