At Ability Options, putting the people we support first is at the heart of everything we do. We are here to help you reach your goals and realise your potential. This Q&A is the first in a new series where we will take you behind the scenes to see how our people work to support you. In this issue of TheVoice, we speak with Vanessa, who is following her dream working as a ParentsNext Consultant to support parents in finding their feet in the workforce.

Vanessa works in our Wyong office and joined Ability Options to support parents who have taken time out of the workforce to raise a family, navigate their employment goals.

When did you join Ability Options?

I joined Ability Options as a Disability Employment Consultant in 2018. Soon after, I realised I wanted to transfer into ParentsNext to fulfil my dream in supporting parents to get into the workforce and achieve their employment goals.

What is it like to work as a ParentsNext Consultant?

My role is all about helping parents with their goals whether they want to seek education, employment, or just need help figuring out what they want to do as a career.

I’m passionate about this work because I get to help parents build their future and get to know them and their goals closely. I get to support people to gain education or work and help in other aspects of their lives if they are struggling and can refer them onto other programs or community services.

I am extremely dedicated to helping parents to develop, grow and achieve their goals.

Tell me about your day-to-day and your approach to supporting participants?

The participants I work with have a wide variety of different needs when it comes to employment support services. I tailor my service to each person.

A participant could be needing help with getting into a course, so I would speak to them about what courses interest them the most, and then I would help them navigate those courses and the application process.

My participants and I regularly schedule catch ups to discuss goals and building blocks to achieve what they want in the ParentsNext program. We also chat about their progress and work through any challenges that may arise together.

Another participant could be seeking valuable employment, so I would sit down and chat about what sort of position they are looking to find, what vacancies we have available at the time, and research opportunities through job sites. I also support them in learning how to effectively use sites such as Seek and Indeed.

Regardless of Centrelink requirements and compliance, I always place the individuals’ needs as the highest priority.

What have been some of yours and your participants’ highlights from 2022?

Quite a few of my participants have grown their confidence and reached many employment milestones; some achieved and sustained employment. One participant spoke about a job she landed and thanked me for the support she received through our program.

“I could only have done this thanks to the support and guidance Vanessa gave me,” the participant said.

I wanted to see her succeed through the proper support she needed at the time. She will be great at whatever she sets her mind to.

What are the key things you go through when supporting a new participant for the first time?

Helping them navigate their future and focus on what they want to work towards. Goal setting and creating action plans are also key milestones to ensure there is value in each appointment.

Tell me about your experience with ParentsNext. How do you think it benefits participants?

I like the ParentsNext program because it allows participants to develop meaningful skills, and prepare them for a working future. This program is helping to break generational unemployment gaps and empowers parents of future generations.

How would you recommend the program to other parents looking for support to enter, or re-enter, the workforce?

I would highly recommend ParentsNext as it is dedicated to supporting parents who have specific needs. They will get step-by-step support to gaining skills and qualifications that will help them achieve their goals and build their future.

To find out more about our ParentsNext program and how we can support you in achieving your goals, visit our website.

Do you know someone who could benefit from our services?

Refer them to Ability Options to help them get the support they want and deserve.

Refer a Participant