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15 July, 2020
A Coffs Coast local is putting his personal challenges aside to provide specialised physical and moral disability support to Northcott Disability Services’ clients.
TAFE NSW graduate, Matthew Rees, was born with spina bifida, a condition leaving the spine exposed and easily damaged after birth. From the tender age of 14, his infectious enthusiasm saw him looking for ways to use his personal experiences to help others.
As a strong role model, Mr Rees said he is passionate about empowering people with disabilities to live life to their fullest, through community participation and social inclusion, while keeping a person-centred approach top of mind.
“While studying for my HSC, I worked in restaurants and cafes in a variety of roles but had the burning ambition to be of service to, and an advocate for, people with disabilities,” he said.
“I knew I needed practical skills and experience to be employed in the sector, so I studied disability services online with TAFE Digital and gained employment with the Northcott Disability Services in a casual support role.”
Graduating with a Certificate III in Individual Support saw Matthew secure a permanent support worker role at the centre. With the ambition to rise in the ranks to become a senior support worker and ultimately take on a management role, he promptly enrolled in a Certificate IV in Disability, to further develop his individual support capabilities.
For close to three years, he has been delivering a popular weekly cooking class, teaching clients to create shopping lists, shop smartly at their chosen stores, prepare and cook meals they enjoy, and even clean the kitchen afterwards. It always elicits a broad smile when Mr Rees sees people enjoying the food they have prepared or take delicious fare home to share with their families.
Along the way, he has taken the lead role in several group activities, written customer programs, created stories and worked with both low and high needs customers.
Northcott Disability Services Program Coordinator, Julie Pell, said, “Just coming to work is often challenging for someone living with a disability.
“I have a great deal of respect for the way Matthew is able to harness his experiences and take responsibility for clients with higher needs, with a depth of insight many people can’t possibly understand.”
Visit https://www.tafensw.edu.au/digital to explore the range of Semester 2 online study options at TAFE NSW.
Media contact: Bonny Gunn, TAFE Digital Media and Communications Business Partner.
Mobile 0417 134 048.