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4 signs you should work in community services

By Ana Isabel Alonsagay | 04 November 2019

As one of the nation’s largest, Australia’s community services industry plays a vital role in the wellbeing of disadvantaged citizens. The sector encompasses areas of child care, aged care, welfare, and many others – driving positive change among those who need it most. 

Donations and government funding continuously support the field, with an expected revenue increase of 3.5% from 2019-2020. With a rising focus on social needs (especially in areas of mental health) and an ageing population, the industry is set to experience strong growth in the years to 2023

There’s no better time to dive into Australia’s community service work - though are you suited for a role in this fast-paced, challenging – yet ultimately, inspiring profession? SkillsTalk break down the most common signs of an ideal community services worker.

What are the signs you should work in community services?

  1. You’re good with people.
  2. You love helping those in need.
  3. You work well under pressure.
  4. You have an interest in psychology and human behaviour.

1. You’re good with people.

woman carer speaking with elderly man

If you’re a natural extrovert, a community services career lets you tap into your love and interest of people. 
Most roles in the industry require a mandatory ability to work with individuals from all walks of life. In fact, Job Outlook ranks “relationship-building” as a top essential skill among welfare support workers (considered 86% important), as much of your tasks revolve around serving and working with others

Community service workers thus require the ability to engage and relate to people from differing genders, cultures, ages, and socio-economic status. If you connect to strangers with ease (despite having little in common), you’ll likely do well in a community services role. 

A high EQ (emotional intelligence) and sense of empathy is also beneficial in this line of work. 

Those with high EQ have a greater understanding of human emotions, how they work, and how to manage them. This profession often subjects individuals to much “emotional labour”; typically caused by hostile or frustrating clients with problematic behaviour – or simply those who are vulnerable and dependent (such as children and the elderly). A successful community services worker is therefore someone who can effectively handle such situations in a stable, appropriate manner. 

Empathy goes hand-in-hand with this, as the trait fosters greater sensitivity and awareness of others’ thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Empathetic people can perceive other people’s experiences in more compassionate, vicarious ways, helping them apply the best course of action in response. 

2. You love helping those in need.

As a community services worker, your greatest satisfaction is derived from helping those in need.

Whether they’re struggling with their mental health, disabilities, or financial situation – the profession lets you reach out and empower the disadvantaged. If you love fostering positive change (both small-scale improvements in people’s behaviours or large-scale developments in the broader community), this industry lets you do just that. 

As mentioned, Australian employment for community services is constantly on the rise, as significant fractions of the population require such support. 

Mental health counselling, for example, is a fast-growing industry with statistics showing one in five Australians (aged 16-85) experiencing mental health issues. The prevalence of such disorders thus results in a high demand for professionals in the field. 

The ageing population also bears a great demand for aged and disability carers; another thriving industry that’s set to create around 179,000 jobs in the next five years. 

With plenty of Australians in need of social care, those with a love for charity work can pour their passion into uplifting such people through a rewarding community services career. 

3. You work well under pressure.

special needs carer interacting with child using wheelchair

As gratifying as the work may be, community services careers can often be stressful, demanding plenty from its workers – both emotionally and physically. 

Since plenty of client cases involve distressing circumstances – from issues of homelessness, poverty, and mental illness to the trauma of child or adult abuse – stress, burnout, and emotional drain are common in the field. 

However, if you’re someone with emotional and mental resilience, a community services job can reap plenty of fulfilment despite its challenges. An ideal employee knows how to care for their well-being amongst a busy schedule, as well as setting and maintaining boundaries. While your work is all about giving – having your limits, and being firm with them, is also essential.  

Of course, you must also be efficient in juggling numerous client and workplace demands. This calls for excellent organisational and time-management skills, while still providing quality personal service. 

In an interview with the Northern Star, aged care worker Tahlia Staggs describes the restless, and often stressful, nature of her job. 

With a shift that starts at 6:30 am, Stagg has 90 minutes to get 11 residents bathed, dressed, and ready for the day – all before the clock strikes 8. This gives her “eight minutes and 18 seconds per resident” to get everything done. 

And that’s just the beginning. With only four nurses in the ward and 24 residents in total, the day holds a hectic schedule of meal rushes, “toileting” patients, administering medications and filing paperwork. 

It’s a hard day-in-the-life of a community services worker – but if you’ve got the emotional strength, with the passion to trump all challenges; then the role will surely reward you. 

4. You have an interest in psychology and human behaviour.

Finally, a successful community services worker has acute interest in how people think, behave, and interact; and the factors that influence this. 

In fact, Job Outlook ranks “Psychology” as the top-priority knowledge area among those in welfare support, with “Sociology and anthropology” also topping the list. Expertise in these fields provide a full, technical understanding of human behaviour, personalities, interests, and abilities, along with societal trends that shape them. Such knowledge also offer insight into cultures, group behaviour, and their origins. 

Education in these areas are typically needed in common community service careers. Mental health workers, for example, must provide evidence of their qualifications in the field. Since plenty offer counselling services, they must have the credentials to medically resolve psychological issues and trauma. These can include a degree or clinical work experience, along with further training in mental health and psychology. 

Youth work is another field in community services that typically requires a VET (Vocational Education and Training) qualification, or a degree in social sciences, human services, or a related field. 

If these areas pique your interest (or better yet, if you’ve already completed an education in these fields), then a community services career may fit your passions. You’ll not only get to apply your knowledge of people and social behaviours – you’ll also have the opportunity to help those with psychological or behavioural struggles.

Think you’re a good fit for community services?

Now that we’ve outlined the ideal traits of a community service worker, think you tick all the boxes?

For those planning to pursue this industry, Upskilled offers a wide range of community service courses to help you get started. Each program offers practical and theoretical training in areas such as mental health, counselling, and welfare support – helping you make that first leap towards a fulfilling career. Best of all, this nationally-recognised training is delivered 100% online, letting you study at your own pace and schedule. 

Step into community services – and enquire on a course today. 
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