You’re never too young to care

Surrounded by several of his classmates, Aged Care graduate Jake Whelan of Caloundra stood out, not just because he’s well over six foot tall, but as he’s a male in a female dominated industry and only 20 years old.

Mr Whelan joins one of Australia’s fastest growing industries with more than one million people in Australia receiving aged care services and the number is expected to rise to over 3.5 million older people by 2050. But he isn’t in it for the job opportunities alone.

“Just giving someone a smile makes a big difference – there’s a lot of knowledge in older people that we don’t always make the time to listen to and that was part of the appeal of this industry for me,” he said.

“During [work] placement I was giving care the way I want my parents to receive it one day.”

Mr Whelan completed a Certificate III in Aged Care and a Certificate III in Disability with STEPS Education and Training at Caloundra last week and said he was looking forward to the change from hospitality to aged care and ‘making a positive difference in people’s lives.’

“Just talking to the oldies was such a highlight; my favourite area was working in the dementia ward– they knew something was wrong and so it was rewarding to put a smile on their face. It makes their day,” he said.

On the Sunshine Coast, the health and community services field is one of the largest with more than 20,100 people employed and numbers steadily growing by 34% on the Sunshine Coast since 2007.

Mr Whelan’s cohort has had great success securing employment, often before finishing the course.

Another STEPS graduate Brenda Pratt just gained employment with Kin Care providing home and community care across the region.

She said aged care teacher Wendy Nunn encouraged students to get out there before finishing and provided support on what to do.

“Wendy’s so inspiring and empowering and positive – basically think of every amazing word and she’s it!” she said.

“Doing this course feels so right in my life.

“Being a carer you feel blessed– it’s such a privilege and there’s nothing better than being appreciated and hugged.

“Each day ends on such a happy note.”

Mr Whelan said he was the youngest in his class by about 10 years, but being young doesn’t mean you can’t do the work.

“You’re never too young to work in this industry – young people don’t understand what it involves, so it’s worth checking it out to find out more,” he said.

“I’ve come a long way from working in hospitality to doing this. Anything’s possible if you give it a go.”


Jake Whelan and his proud mother at the STEPS Aged Care class graduation ceremony.

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STEPS Education & Training | 'Seat of Learning'