Two years ago, I sustained a lower back injury at work that meant I was unable to return to my role as a parts interpreter. As a result, I found myself out of work.
Being unemployed for the last two years has been challenging. I was constantly down, I felt like I was going in circles and everything that could go wrong seemed to be happening. I had depression and anxiety and was experiencing financial hardship – in debt and struggling to pay rent. On top of that, I was socially isolated, not engaged in my community and was experiencing some family strains, too.
I was referred to CoAct’s HISM+Work program by my case manager at EML (who was looking after my worker’s compensation claim) on behalf of icare NSW and am so thankful for the support I’ve received. Over the last nine weeks, my Intensive Support Manager, Solomon, has not only helped me work through my personal issues, but also given me the support I need to be mentally fit and motivated to return to work.
I had a few psychosocial barriers that were working against my return to work.
Solomon really helped me map out these issues and one by one, we tackled each of them. The first step was rebuilding the broken relationship with my family, then getting reconnected to my community and doing the things I used to enjoy doing. My personal network has increased as a result, which is of course a good thing.
The next step was working on my own personal wellbeing around my depression and anxiety. Although not a psychologist, Solomon used every meeting to sit and listen to what was going on in my life, asking open questions and guiding me to figure out the solutions to taking control again over myself.
We then tackled my financial hardship situation, and I was referred to community services that were able to assist me financially. This took a massive load off my shoulders and meant I had the right support to pay my bills.
After all of this, I was able to think and see a lot clearer, which meant I was ready to explore my options around work.
I didn’t want to return to my old job as an automotive spare parts interpreter – talking to customers and advising on appropriate parts for their vehicles – or any similar role. Solomon helped me understand what motivates me – I learnt that I didn’t have to work in a job that I wasn’t motivated to do!
He gave me confidence in myself, showing me that I had the great transferable skills that would allow me to step into jobs I’ve always dreamed of doing. So, we then explored suitable roles that were closely aligned with what I was passionate about and suited my transferrable skills. He coached me through cold calling jobs I was interested in and we did some mock interviews, too.
During my time of injury, I was in a house fire, which meant I had lost all my documents and a lot of my clothing. Solomon assisted me in replacing some of these important personal documents that I needed, like my birth certificate.
When I was called for an interview, I had no clothes to wear.
Solomon went over and above by taking me shopping for interview-appropriate clothes to wear. I also needed police and working with children checks, which at the time I couldn’t afford to pay for, so yet again Solomon stepped in, connecting me with financial assistance to pay for them. The best part though? I got the job!
I now have a foot in the door in the community sector – an industry I’ve never worked in before. I spent my whole working career working in the automotive industry, but today I work as a social support worker. I have always wanted to work with people, and I love my new job. I don’t know if I would have made it here without Solomon’s help!
I’m current awaiting surgery on my back. Since the injury, I’ve put on significant amount of weight, which has delayed my surgery. But today, I’ve lost about 10 kilos and my confidence and outlook on life is a lot better.
What did I learn over the last nine weeks participating in the HISM+ Work program?
I learnt that being injured isn’t the end. Yeah, it sucks, but with the right help, you can find way back. There’s a job for everyone – you just need to find the right support and the person who is willing to give you a go. During the program I have become more aware of my own wellbeing and I have become more confident in myself and my skills.
Today I am employed, and I enjoy what I do. I have great flexibility, great work-life balance and am very comfortable. I’m financially stable and able to provide for my family (and occasionally even spoil them). All my bills are paid, my fridge is always full of food and I was recently able to buy a new car. It’s hard to believe that just three months ago I was struggling for cash, unable to pay my rent or put petrol in the car. That’s all different now.
My outlook is completely different to three months ago. I’m really happy and have plans for working on my career development, which Solomon has helped with too, connecting me to new people and networks. I’m so lucky to have had the support to move on from being down-and-out and unemployed for two years, to now working – all in the space of just nine weeks!
Unable to return to your pre-injury role or workplace? We understand and can help you navigate your vocational options, arrange training and up-skilling, help to identify alternative employment opportunities and provide ongoing support once you’ve found a job.
Get in touch with our friendly team today to find out more.