From Northcott customer to Northcott staff member

By Kate Reid, 15 March 2018 , Comments

Northcott customer Tony Petrin has been on plenty of adventures over the last decade. From surfing to 4WDing and a trip to Vivid, Tony has been an active participant in Northcott programs.

Though it would be easy to assume these events are just about hanging out with mates and having a bit of fun, for Tony, the programs have been life changing.

We caught up with Tony to find out more about how Northcott supported him to develop the skills and confidence he needed to become a summer camp counsellor and a support worker with Northcott’s Life Skills program.

What events have you been to with Northcott?

I’ve been to the Vivid light show in the city, I’ve been surfing and I’ve been golfing. Last year I went on a 4WD trip to Young on a farm property with Drive 4 Life. We learnt about farm life and how to grow wheat. We looked at farm equipment, learnt how to sheer sheep and we looked at the chicken and duck farm.

What was your favourite event?

It would have to be another one of the 4WD trips I went on with Drive 4 Life. We went camping, sat around the campfire, went 4WDing, looked at a museum in Broken Hill and went to the outback.

What do you get out of the Northcott programs you’ve been involved in?

It’s a chance to meet new people and have some different experiences. I also learned new skills – like social skills.

Can you tell us how you ended up working at a summer camp in Canada?

I was involved with Northcott for a long time, then staff members Ben and Keira said “why don’t you do a summer camp?” Keira and Ben thought it was time for me to challenge myself.  So I went to a summer camp in Canada and worked as a kitchen hand for my first camp. Then I went to camp a second time and I worked as a camp counsellor for kids with disability.

When I was a teenager, I went to camp with Northcott and met people and gained independence and then went to work at summer camp and used those skills.

People think it’s just about having fun, but there’s more to recreation than fun.

In March 2017 you started working in Northcott’s Life Skills program; can you tell us a bit about that?

I started working as a support worker and again if I hadn’t attended Northcott programs before, I wouldn’t have the skills to work in Life Skills as a support worker. I went from high school, to Northcott, to summer camp and then working at Northcott as a staff member.

I always wanted to work in recreation. That was a passion of mine. In Life Skills we do sports, arts and crafts, drama and gardening.

What do you enjoy about your work?

I like being able to give back to Northcott customers what Northcott taught me. I like getting to know everyone in Life Skills and how it’s a team environment. I think recreation is important for everyone, people with disability and people without disability. I also like teaching customers new skills. The learning doesn’t stop just because you have a job. Being a support worker, you literally learn something everyday, even if you don’t mean to.

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Looking to get job ready? Check out Northcott’s Vocational Skills program.  


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