When Deb McHugh was made redundant at the age of 59 she never expected to wind up in the most fulfilling role of her life.


“The mining industry went a bit bad. The mine I was at closed, so we got laid off and became redundant,” explains Deb.

“I went to an employment agency and asked them what industry would have a lot of work for someone my age?”

Soon after Deb landed a job in community services and hasn’t looked back. She loves the work and has risen through the ranks pretty quickly.

But just how easy is it to start over in a new role?

Starting over

The employment agency steered Deb in the direction of the fastest growing sectors – aged care and disability support.

“In my forties I did a stint in aged care health and I loved it, so I said, ‘Okay, well I might look at that’,” says Deb.

While Deb was off work, she started doing her Certificate III, a prerequisite to work in Aged Care. But she didn’t stop there.

“I started going around, putting my name down at different places and when I got to Anglicare, they said they only had cleaning positions available. So, I thought ‘Well, I’ll take that, and I’ll sit tight’.

Deb didn’t need to sit tight for long and before she knew it, she was moving up the ranks to her current role as Client Liaison Officer.

Getting qualified

Moving up the ranks was surprisingly straight forward for Deb, even the process of getting her qualifications to work in aged care.

“I was probably there cleaning, I’m not sure for how long … maybe three or four months, something like that. And then a Health Care Worker position came up, so I applied for that and got it!

“I did that for around 12 months or so. And then there was a Client Liaison position that became available, so I spoke to my manager about that. She said as long as I was willing to do study on the job, they’d consider it, and so that’s what I did. And that’s how I ended up as a Client Liaison Officer!”

Deb completed her Certificate III in Aged Care at the Royal College through Anglicare which simplified the process even more.

“I had a really good tutor there as well, she really made herself available any time I got stuck, so that went pretty smoothly too,” says Deb.

In all, the transition from cleaner to Client Liaison Officer only took 18 months.

A rewarding role

Always one to keep busy, Deb’s new job is the perfect fit.

“From the time I sit down to the time I go home, I never really look at the clock. It’s just go, go, go. And sometimes I just want to keep going, because there’s always so much to do and I’m helping people. It gives you a good feeling to be able to go out there and give them some sort of support,” says Deb.

At a time when permanent roles are few and far between Deb knows she’s onto a winner. She values the job security her role brings and knowing she will have a job right up until retirement.

“If you’re willing to do the hours, there’s always plenty of work around. And it’s an industry that’s going to grow bigger as we age.

“I think it’s a reliable career to get into especially if you’re a little bit older, sometimes it gets a bit harder to get into a job and feel secure in that job,” explains Deb.

When asked what she would tell people thinking about working in community services Deb doesn’t hold back.

“I never get up in the morning and think, ‘Oh, I’ve got to go to work today’. I’m always full of enthusiasm because no two days are the same!”