Rodney's Person-Centred Approach

Rodney Norris has switched from a career in accounting, manufacturing and business management, to a career at Minda – and he hasn’t looked back.

Rodney, who is now in his sixties, completed a Certificate III in Individual Support (Disability) at the South Australian Learning Centre (SALC) last year after life took an unexpected turn.

“My career background is in accounting, manufacturing and business management working for Pacific Brands Ltd and I also spent eight years in the north-west of Western Australia working in the mining industry for Rio Tinto,” he says.

“I had planned on retiring but unfortunately lost my wife two years ago during heart surgery, which obviously created a massive vacuum in my life. I needed to do something meaningful and positive, and my son suggested that I should look at working with people who needed support.”

With an extensive list of career achievements and broad skills in areas including work health and safety, quality assurance and lean manufacturing principles, Rodney completed the Certificate III at SALC in September last year.

“I spent time during my course doing work experience placements across four areas of Minda and South Australian Group Enterprises (SAGE), including Accommodation and Packaging Solutions and loved every minute,” he says.

“Packaging Solutions has to be one of the most positive and lovely work environments I’ve ever experienced in my entire life. There were plenty of unique incidents which made me smile, especially meeting Princess Bubble Gum.

“I was on the line with Marriott, whom I kept accidentally calling Matilda or Isabel or other names and one day she said, ‘just call me Princess Bubble Gum!’.

“I already have lots of fond memories and each week there is another unique incident which makes me smile.”

Rodney started working full time as line supervisor at Electronics Recycling Australia (ERA) in October.

“There’s some really wonderful people at ERA … I love some of the responses I get and the facial expressions to circumstances and the fact people will just start singing.

“The other day I was working alongside Adam, who hadn’t said much to me while I’ve been here, but on this day, I was struggling a bit and he reached over and put his hand onto mine to assist me … those things are relevant and important.”

A person-centred approach is important to Rodney in his daily work at Minda: “I enjoy supporting people to increase their self-determination and improve their own independence,” he says.

“I’m also passionate about creating positive, friendly and loving relationships in family and working environments and never ever place limits on having fun.

“I’m not a stay-at-home person … and I was transitioning to retirement and something terrible happened. I needed to be around people in a positive workplace and it’s helped me a lot.”

Rodney encourages others to consider a career in the disability sector, which he says is rewarding and has a positive impact on others.

“It’s changed the way I look at things,” he says. “I would never have seen myself doing some of the things I do now, but you don’t know you have these capabilities until you do them.

“My focus is always on respect, safety in the workplace, communication, rapport and trust.”