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Graduate Certificate of Disability Studies 2006
Graduate Lorraine Rodrigues is passionate about making a difference in the lives of young people with a disability.
Originally from India, Lorraine settled in Australia in 1992 and has worked for the past decade with the Victorian Government's Home and Community Care Program (Disability Services) and previous to this with the Victorian Department of Human Services (Child Protection) for five years.
'I work as an In-Home Support Worker, caring for children and young people who have a range of disabilities. I provide respite care for their families and also assist parents to access services and resources to meet their child's needs. My work involves participating in case consultations with Home and Community Care staff and other professionals, shadow-shifts and providing peer support which includes sharing information and teaching skills on the job to better enable us to understand the needs of the families we work with,' Lorraine explains.
Lorraine also has a very personal reason as to why she is so passionate about helping children with disabilities reach their full potential in an inclusive society.
'My work carries great significance for me, because I have a son with a disability and I have found that this helps me to be a much better advocate for families of children with a disability. The similar personal experiences and roller-coaster rides that parents go through, gives me the impetus to support others,' she says.
'I really enjoy being able to care for, and support children and young people with disabilities, and help them overcome the many challenges they face in everyday life. It is my role to help enhance their participation by giving them an opportunity, a fair go and a quality of life that helps them to be contributing members to society.'
Lorraine graduated with a Graduate Certificate of Disability Studies in 2006 from Deakin's Melbourne Campus at Burwood and says that her course had the right mix of theoretical and practical learning.
'My course gave me the opportunity to apply theoretical knowledge to practical situations and continually evaluate practices in order to achieve better outcomes for the future,' she says.
'The course instilled in me the ability to understand the rights of people with a disability and to explore how we as individuals come to experience people with a disability and hold the certain values we have about them as individuals. It also gave me the skills to understand the concept of advocacy and its role in directing change for the most vulnerable. Importantly, it also challenged me to question those "labels", "diagnosis" and "compartmentalised misconceptions" that we so readily use to title people with a disability. Deakin also had that leading edge because of the professional expertise of its teaching staff.'
Although Lorraine currently holds two postgraduate qualifications, she has enrolled to study further in the field of disability studies.
'I want to study towards a Masters in Education (Inclusive and Special Education) in order to bring about change in the educational system and work to make it easier for students with a disability to access mainstream secondary schooling and a university education,' she says.
Lorraine is currently Chairperson of the Participant Committee for Uniting Care Community Options (UCCO), a major provider of community support services in the Eastern Metropolitan Region of Melbourne.