ACHIEVE IN ACTION: RACHAEL ROSS, MY LIFE
DEDICATED PEOPLE WITH A WIDE VARIETY OF SKILLS ENABLE ACHIEVE AUSTRALIA TO DEVELOP ON THE RIGHTS OF PEOPLE WITH DISABILITY TO ACHIEVE MEANINGFUL AND VALUED LIVES. ACHIEVE IN ACTION IS AN OCCASIONAL SERIES THAT EXPLORES THE SKILLS AND CONTRIBUTIONS OF THESE INDIVIDUALS.
Rachael Ross is Coordinator of Achieve Australia’s My Life Day Programs Centre in Seven Hills, Sydney.
Day Programs are a mix of centre- and community-based activities that encourage people with disability to become more active and independent, participate in their local community, learn new skills, and develop individual interests.
Rachael is a graduate in Health Sciences – Disability and Mental Health Therapeutic Recreation from the Western Sydney University and has worked at Achieve for three years.
She began as a Social Educator at Achieve’s Araluen Day Programs Centre in Epping and then was promoted to Team Leader at that location. When Achieve opened its Seven Hills site in March 2017, Rachael was part of the team which developed the program offerings of the new centre and localised them for the surrounding communities.
Today she leads a team of 10 Social Educators ranging in age from 24 to 50, who have backgrounds and experience in aged care, disability support and community services.
“I developed an interest in disability support from quite a young age,” said Rachael. “I was friends with a neighbour who had physical disability, and I attended a high school where kids with special needs were integrated with the mainstream programs.”
A series of volunteer and work experience placements with disability support organisations, in addition to her studies, solidified Rachael’s commitment and knowledge.
“It became really clear that disability support – and particularly Day Programs – would be my vocation. I still have that passion today. It is personally challenging but also immensely rewarding.”
“I love working with each person and their family to identify needs and special interests. Together we see how we can adapt our programs to provide opportunities for learning, recreation, community participation, and an element of fun,” she said.
The Seven Hills team supports 35 people with disability, including some with complex needs.
Currently the youngest participant is 40 years old, however Rachel anticipates the age demographics gradually shifting as younger people with disability graduate from high schools in the surrounding areas.
As community needs change, so will the programs offered by the Seven Hills Day Programs Centre. Achieve Australia’s Araluen Centre in Epping has successfully pioneered the combination of certified TAFE courses in art and horticulture with its Day Programs. That is a possible future avenue of development for the Seven Hills site as well.