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22 September 2021
The entire September 22, 2021 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!
After working in manual labour for many years, David Fontana has made a major U-turn.
Now working as an individual support worker for Grampians Community Health, Mr Fontana’s successful career change proves it is never too late for reinvention.
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The 60-year-old, based in Stawell and also travelling to Ararat to support residents, has been in the job for nearly three years.
He said the role had taught him much about empathy and caring.
Mr Fontana admitted he took a ‘leap of faith’ when he left his abattoir job, but it had worked out fine.
“It was a huge change. The manual-labour roles are a tough game and it was starting to wear me out, getting up early in the morning and it’s very difficult, physical work,” he said.
“I couldn’t see myself staying in these roles much longer. Leaving was a bit scary at first but I’m glad I did it.
“I had been a ganger on the railways but when they were downsizing, I left and took a job at the Stawell abattoir. I was only going to stay there for two years but it ended up being 19.”
Mr Fontana’s wife Sue is a registered nurse and diabetes educator and thought he might adapt to a caring role.
She suggested doing a Certificate II in Community Services through South West TAFE and, despite minimal computer skills, Mr Fontana went about reinventing himself.
“The course was very helpful. We learnt from the tutor and her experiences,” he said.
“What she said stuck with me and then months down the track when you’re working you remember what she said.”
Mr Fontana said Grampians Community Health was looking for individual support workers so he put in for a job, got it and now looked forward to continuing in the field.
The work involves helping mostly frail and elderly people who live at home with everything from cleaning to preparing for showering to taking them shopping, for a cup of coffee or just a drive.
“The first thing I had to learn was that it’s what you can do for them, not what they can do for you. You have to be tolerant and have empathy,” Mr Fontana said.
He described the work as rewarding, both for the worker and the client.
“They look forward to it and I just help,” he said.