For many 13 is an unlucky number, but for me 13 is an exciting one, as that’s soon to be the amount of years I’ve been a support worker for Interchange.

My journey with Interchange began back in 2007 when I started volunteering on recreational based day activities and camps, I was 20 years old with no idea where I wanted to take my life or what I wanted to do with myself. A friend had recommended I volunteer at Interchange, as I am a person who enjoys meeting new people and being part of new experiences. After organising to volunteer I could see early on that this was the kind of environment I wanted to be part of and I haven’t looked back!

Early 2008, after a few months of volunteering the doors opened and an employment opportunity came along to become a support worker. I jumped at this chance; to get paid for what you love is a truly special thing.

During my journey as a support worker I’ve met so many individuals and families, and some wonderful life long relationships have been built in this time. I still regularly see families I began working with all those years ago! For me, being a support worker is so much more than a job, it becomes part of you and you become an important part of people’s lives.

Like any job being a support worker can have its good days and its bad, some shifts will drain you, push you, challenge you and make you question your inner strength. But in my experience all of these days are heavily outweighed by the good days, the days where you share laughter, happiness and make great memories with people who genuinely appreciate your presence in their lives, you walk away knowing you’ve made a difference.

Throughout my time at Interchange I’ve been fortunate enough to be part of some amazing experiences. From helping out at birthday parties, school transitions, swimming lessons and hydro therapy, zoo outings, attended musicals and concerts, engaged with children for hours on some of the best playground adventures… the list goes on! I’ve been privileged enough to join families in celebrating milestone birthdays, school camps, weddings, girls weekends away and even a family holiday or two!

You can see as you read this that being a support worker is so much more than one on one with an individual, you quickly become part of someone’s world and their family’s too, a unique and very special aspect of our role.

Every day brings something new, the freedom and flexibility that comes with being a support worker is brilliant. You can work with many different families or you can work with a select few, over the years I’ve had weeks that have consisted of 7 or 8 different people- shifts as short as pick up and drop off, to after and before school shifts, to weekend outings and sleep over shifts too. These different kinds of shifts with different times and varied lengths allow you to mould your working week to your personal life and vice versa.

I began support work as a 20 year old, and am now married with 3 children, all the while Interchange and my valued families have been along for the ride, they are a part of my life as much as I am part of theirs. My children have been privileged enough to meet my amazing families and build connections too! I continue to learn so much, as do my children about acceptance, diversity, equality and the importance of communication in all its forms.

Being a support worker, is a diverse, flexible, fun and important role- One I can see myself doing for many years to come. Bring on lucky number 13!

Jeanne Smith


My name is Wendy and I am a married mum of two awesome teenagers, Jordan 16 and Hannah 14. My husband Danny has been an incredibly hardworking man, working two jobs since Jordan was a toddler in order for me to be a stay at home mum and be there for our kids through all their endeavours, and boy there have been a lot!

This year Hannah started year 8 at secondary school and seeing her so connected and settled and with Jordan moving from strength to strength at school and working at McDonalds, I found myself looking for that something extra to fill my time. I heard a comment once that ‘everyone needs someone to love, something to do and something to look forward to’ and seeing I had my loving family and plenty to do, it was time to look forward to something new.

I happened to be scrolling through my Facebook news feed when a post from Interchange Outer East appeared with ‘JOIN OUR TEAM’ heading up a call for the next round of casual support workers. It grabbed my eye as I have always been in awe of the families and the people who live with disabilities and thought perhaps it was my time to give. I took the step and commented on the post and from there it has been a whirlwind.

I attended an information session where I felt at home immediately. The support that was offered to potential support workers was very evident from the beginning. I had no hesitation submitting my application at the end of that session and the rest is history. I was interviewed and once offered a position I set the wheels in motion to obtain the necessary requirements as soon as possible. I wanted to get started as soon as I could. My employment was activated on 23 June and I have not looked back. It has been a steep learning curve to say the least, but the support of all the staff has made that a much easier task to tackle. They have been patient and answered my hundreds of questions, emails and phone calls without hesitation.

I have been as active as possible in getting shifts booked and have had such a variety of people to ‘work’ with (I find it hard to call what we do work when it’s actually so fulfilling and enjoyable). I have already had a number of ongoing shifts booked in to my week and have picked up one-off shifts wherever possible. I have had the pleasure of meeting so many awesome individuals, each of whom have taught me so much already in my short time with them. I certainly take home so much more than I thought would be possible.

I have had so many firsts from going to the gym with a super spunky natured young lady using public buses, to running through the playground being superheros with a young man who made my day when we danced to the Village People’s YMCA in the middle of Wally Tew Reserve. I have chatted for hours with a lovely lady over hot chocolate and been asked how my nacho making skills stack up. Every shift has something different and new. I have even now cooked vegetable byriani with flat bread from scratch for a lovely family when mum had hurt her arm, and braided her daughters hair which is some of the longest hair I have ever seen! To say I go home feeling fulfilled is an understatement.

I feel incredibly humbled to be allowed to be part of the lives of so many families and wonderful people and feel I now have a super huge extended family, so much so that my kids have signed up also as volunteers and have both attended their first full day shifts over the school holidays. I am so happy that I took the first step in this incredible journey and I would encourage anyone who has ever thought of making a difference to attend one of our information sessions… you have nothing to lose and everything to gain!

Check out the dates of our upcoming casual support worker recruitment sessions here