Have you ever wondered what your purpose in life is? It’s a common philosophical question that most of us struggle with, yet many don’t even come close to reaching the right answer. But why do humans exist in the first place? Who or what put us here? Is it to accumulate wealth and material objects? Is it to make a name for ourselves and compete with one another for the top spot, so that we can stand alone on top of our ivory tower and lord it over those who didn’t make it? Is it to be the best we can be, at the cost of those who are disadvantaged to begin with, who may never get a chance to rise up through the ranks of society’s established hierarchies?
Discrimination, abuse and inequality persist even in developed countries, which requires a serious re-think on those critical humanitarian matters that still require drastic improvement. After all, what’s the point in being successful if people are still suffering on a daily basis even in our own community? Are we supposed to ignore their plight and absolve ourselves of any blame and responsibility?
Whether we have a hand in it or not seems irrelevant. The fact is that these problems exist and it’s up to us to fix them. Who else will?
What should unite each and every one of us is our very humanness. We have a social responsibility to one another because the world isn’t ruled by a single person. We all comply whether we like it or not, and therefore the power actually rests squarely on our shoulders.
As Nelson Mandela once proclaimed on the issue of tackling world poverty:
“Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice. Like Slavery and Apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. YOU can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.”
So let’s consider a compromise. Maybe the secret to a rewarding career isn’t precipitated by burning ambition just for ambition’s sake. Perhaps it need not be wholly fixated on excessive financial gain, simply to buy extravagant jewels, designer clothes, imitate Hollywood celebrities and essentially play house. Do we all need to aspire for untold riches the likes of which only the super elite has ever (and probably will ever) experience?
If you can put food on the table and have a roof over your head, you’re already one of the lucky ones. It’s time to take a step back out of the bubble, have a good look around and ask a simple question: What can I do to help?
This doesn’t mean donating your hard earned cash to charity, which is essentially passing the torch over to somebody else to do the actual ‘helping’. You could get paid to be the help instead, to do honest, meaningful work with no bells and whistles attached, but rather what needs to be done to make the world we live in a beautiful place, and to feel good about the earth as somewhere we all call home.
Still not convinced? Well here’s a few random facts to stoke up the fire within and awaken your social conscience.
In Australia alone:
- There are at least 2.5 million people living in poverty, including over 600,000 children.
- At least one woman is murdered by a current or former partner each week, making domestic violence the biggest killer of women under 45, and exposing over 1 million children to violent, abusive living conditions.
- 1 in 5 Australians between the ages of 16 and 85 experience mental illness, such as depression, anxiety and substance abuse.
- More than 4 million Australians are living with some kind of disability.
- More than 3000 deaths occur as a result of people consuming too much alcohol.
- At least 6 Australians commit suicide each day in addition to 30 failed attempts. Unbelievably, suicide actually accounts for the highest number of deaths in the 15-24 age bracket.
- ‘Closing the gap’ between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians is still a major cause for concern too, with lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality rates, worse health conditions, and less educational and employment opportunities experienced by the Indigenous community, along with shockingly high levels of violence, domestic abuse, alcohol and substance abuse, and mental illness.
- Australian children are missing out on the care that they deserve due to a critical demand for child care workers and Early Childhood Teachers across the nation, and
- The aged care crisis means that an exponential increase of workers will be required in the aged care sector to meet unparalleled service demands by 2050.
Are any of these issues hitting home at all? Maybe you’re already an advocate for your community and are doing everything in your power to help eradicate some of these problems once and for all. Take your pick, there’s something for everyone to get involved with on a local level without ever having to look beyond the borders of their town, city or state. The aforementioned statistics only really skim the surface.
A Career in Community Services
According to the Australian Community Workers Association (ACWA):
“A community worker is a qualified person who, through professional training and field education, has the knowledge, skills and values to work in a social welfare agency or program intended to promote or restore the social functioning of individuals, families, social groups or larger communities….Promoting social justice and maximising human potential are cornerstones of community work.”
Have you got what it takes to be a community ambassador? Whether you wish to help families, women and children in need, indigenous and multicultural communities, our ageing population, the disabled, or people dealing with mental health problems, addiction and substance abuse, there are a wide range of specialised areas that you can put your skills to good use. You can make a real difference in the lives of those who are unable to fully support and care for themselves.
Isn’t that what ‘success’ should really be about? A collaborative effort to help everyone, not just ourselves, discover their true potential and get fair, equal treatment. If even one person suffers from discrimination in any form, then the society that they were born into has failed them. Simple as that. It is thus our social duty to correct these types of wrongs because we’ve been dealt a better hand than most. More than that, we have the power to resolve them rather than use our talents strictly for personal gain. We must give a voice to the voiceless. We must not muffle their cries for help. We can’t be selfish.
How to Get Qualified
The Department of Employment predicts that Healthcare and Social Assistance will provide the strongest employment growth out of any sector between 2015 and 2019, so there’s no better time to start your community services career by obtaining at least a Certificate III in Community Services Work. From there, you can decide on your token specialty after you’ve had a taste for the type of work on offer.
Got the skills, but lack the qualifications? Did you know that RPL (Recognition of Prior Learning) allows you to convert your knowledge and previous work experience into a nationally recognised qualification without any classroom study? So if you’ve volunteered at length in the past, or have useful expertise working in the field, you may be automatically entitled for an accredited certificate or diploma within weeks. Take a free skills review to find out where you stand.
Popular qualifications available through RPL include the:
Diploma of Community Services Work, and
Vocational Graduate Diploma of Community Sector Management.