Melbourne Polytechnic graduate, Kara Volau, used her redundancy as an opportunity to retrain in the career she’d always wanted – aged care.
Returning to full-time study after years in the workforce was a shock. But Kara’s commitment paid off and a work placement led to a full-time job offer after graduation.
When Pacific Brands closed its Melbourne factory and moved operations to China in 2009, Kara Volau was one of 550 people who lost their jobs. Luckily for her, redundancy presented an opportunity to work in aged care, something she’d always wanted. Kara’s Fijian upbringing had instilled a strong sense of family and responsibility.
“Looking after our old ones was something we did naturally. I nursed my grandmother when I was young. I’ve always had a soft spot for the elderly.”
When Pacific Brands offered financial aid for retrenched workers to retrain, Kara jumped at the chance and enrolled in the Certificate III in Aged Care at Melbourne Polytechnic, formerly known as NMIT. “My first choice was always Melbourne Polytechnic. I’d heard in the past it had a good reputation. I had always wanted to do this course but I’d never had the time or the money.”
Having worked as a machinist at Pacific for five years, going back to full-time study was daunting. “It had been a while since I was at school so it was a shock. The teachers were just wonderful. They taught in a way that I understood. There was a lot of reading and research. I had to be in class five days a week for six weeks straight. But I managed because I’d committed myself.”
As part of the course, Kara secured a work placement at Eden Terrace aged care facility in Reservoir, not far from where she lives. Within a month, she’d been offered a job as a personal care worker. “My last job was just a job. But this is something I’m really enjoying. When I see our residents’ sons or daughters come into see them, I always think: this could be my mother or father, so I care for them as if they are.” As part of her job, Kara looks after the elderly residents’ personal care, taking them for walks and helping with meals.
The 39-year-old mum of two is eventually planning to train as a registered nurse. In the meantime, she’s determined to develop her skills by enrolling in more courses at Melbourne Polytechnic, including the Certificate III in Home and Community Care, which she is completing online. “I want to do other courses because of the way I was taught. The teachers are very nice, and I’m getting the skills I need.”
Certificate III in Aged Care