Nicholas Preddey was just starting out an exciting career in the television industry when he felt a strong pull towards using his compassion, communication, and problem-solving skills to change people’s lives for the better. Deciding not to ignore it, he enrolled in a Master of Social Work at Charles Sturt University and found his niche in the disability sector, initially as a Support Worker. It was a far cry from TV production, but Nick never looked back.
Then, a friend told him about The Benevolent Society. Nick was impressed by the values and vision of one of Australia’s first charities, and in 2019, applied for a position.
“The People who interviewed me could see that I genuinely wanted to grow in this industry,” Nick says. “They were excited to take me on. I joined as a Customer Engagement Coordinator in our National Support Centre – the first point of contact for many of our clients. I had the unique opportunity to learn more about The Benevolent Society’s key areas of disability, ageing, and children and families. This was amazing for me in terms of forming a foundation of career growth.”
Twelve months later, Nick was promoted to Disability Connect Partner, a role he passionately fulfils today. And for us at The Benevolent Society, we are so proud to witness Nick’s growth in this sector, helping people live life their way.
“I was fortunate to have had a great upbringing,” Nick reflects. “I think sometimes we find ourselves in a bit of a bubble, not realising other people were brought up differently and how it can affect their lives. When I became a support worker, it became clear that there was a whole other world out there. If I can make even the smallest impact on a person’s life and change it for the better, that gives me a sense of purpose.”
Connection, compassion, change
As a Disability Connect Partner, Nick connects clients with our range of clinicians and disability services. Importantly, he helps people navigate the at-times complex National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
“My role is to have conversations with clients and their families about their goals and assessment needs,” Nick says. “We discuss our service agreement and address any questions or concerns they may have. Many people we assist come from the NDIS, which can be quite overwhelming. It’s nice to be that calming voice for them. Then, we make sure everything is ready for our clinicians, so they can work with our clients towards the outcomes they need.”
Nick works in a fast-paced environment, where he needs to be focused and flexible.
“It’s important to remain calm under pressure. When a high-risk referral comes in, you must be flexible enough to turn your focus to that client. That’s why it’s great to be part of a collaborative team - we help each other out.”
To be successful in his role, Nick says one needs to be attentive to a client’s individual needs and challenges.
“Sometimes, we speak to a client or family member who has been let down elsewhere in this industry before. It’s our job to speak calmly, listen, and reassure them that we have their best interests at heart. Yes, there are tough days, but you need to remind yourself that no matter what, you’re doing the best you can.”
A culture of learning and development
As well as working in Disability Services, Nick is completing a university placement with our Practice and Impact Management team.
“My team was very flexible in allowing me to cut back to three days a week so I could do two days in Practice and Impact Management. This placement has given me an understanding of the work that goes into the training and policies framework of everything we do.”
As he nears the end of his degree, Nick reflects on the wealth of learning he has achieved. It’s a growth journey he plans to continue, and The Benevolent Society has and will continue to support him in doing so.
“When I started at here, I didn’t have the deep industry knowledge I have now. There are training tools to help you with that, and we have amazing team leaders who will support you. At the end of the day, it’s a team effort. There’s so much opportunity at The Benevolent Society. I’m so grateful to be here.”