Julian Prasad is an E tū delegate and a disability support worker in South Auckland. The day she joined E tū for the first time, she also decided to become a delegate.
How long have you been a disability support worker?
I’ve been working for my current employer for four years now.
Was this always your job?
Prior to being a disability support worker I was working for seven years in a rest home – so it wasn’t a big change for me to do this job.
Tell us about your background.
I was born in Fiji. I lived mostly in Suva but was brought up in Lautoka – the second largest city in Fiji. I moved to New Zealand in 2008. My husband came a few months before me, and he got a job as a mechanic. Then I followed with my son. We’ve got two children now.
What does a typical day at work look like for you?
People think you look after ‘disabled’ people. I don’t really agree with that – they’re just differently abled. We support people to be independent, to go out in the community. We make them aware of their rights and what they’re eligible for.
What are the biggest issues for workers in the disability support sector right now?
There have been staff shortages. We’ve also been following up with members to make sure they’re able to get the training they need to move up the pay scales.
What do you like about your job?
I’m proud to do my job because it encourages me, motivates me – I feel like it reflects who I am as a person. With your service users, you get to build trust. It’s not only going to visit them, taking them for shopping, coffee, lunch – you’re creating a relationship with them. We do understand though that we aren’t their families. It’s also important for our service users to make friends and build relationships in the community too.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I’m in my first year of a three-year communications degree from SIT. I’m not sure why I decided to sign up but as soon as I see there’s something for me to do or learn, it just motivates me. I’m also going to be part of E tū’s Member Development programme, which starts in October. It’s not just another course for me but about the skills that I’ll learn – how to get more members to join the union, work alongside my organiser, and to grow our E tū team.