Tran: Occupational Therapist

Occupational Therapist Tran Vu shares the incredible journey that brought her to The Benevolent Society, and why she knows it’s the place for her.

Meet Tran

“To succeed in this role, you have to want to get to know people and their stories. What fulfils me is knowing I am helping people to become healthy and happy. Knowing that I’m doing my best to help whoever comes into my life is what drives me every day.”

The power of education

Tran’s start to life was far from easy. Born in Vietnam, Tran and her family became refugees when she was just two months old. The family spent two and a half challenging years in the Philippines before settling in Australia when Tran was three.

Education has always been the highest priority for Tran and her seven siblings.

“Dad was unable to continue his education because of the war and wanted us to have all the opportunities he never had. Mum and Dad made so many sacrifices to give us a better life, and I am so grateful for that.”

Tran studied a Bachelor of Medical Science, then started her career as a Chiropractor. However, she found the work physically and mentally draining, so she returned to university to study Occupational Therapy. The key driver for Tran was a desire to help people overcome challenges and live a fulfilling life, and she’s never looked back. 

With typical candour and a wry smile, Tran says, “After 11 years of study, you should see my HECS debt!”.

Room to move and grow

Tran’s journey as an Occupational Therapist began when she took on a student placement with the Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care. Since then, the services she provides have been transferred to The Benevolent Society and she has taken the opportunity to progress through and across our organisation.

“From the moment I started I immediately felt it was a great fit. First, I worked with the Werrington team, then I got the chance to join the Disability Connect team at our National Office in Sydney”

Tran laughs as she describes herself as feeling ‘often restless’ and appreciates that she has been able to explore different areas at The Benevolent Society. Most recently, she’s enjoyed a sea change and moved from Sydney to our Coolangatta office on the Gold Coast. 

“My husband and I were looking to move to Queensland and wanted a beach lifestyle. When I brought up the idea, they were open and willing to help make it a reality. That meant so much to my husband and me.”
“I was also starting to miss the face to face client work, so I’m pleased to now be back in an Occupational Therapist role. It’s amazing to be able to have the career I want and live ten minutes from the beach.”

Strong values from the very beginning

Becoming a refugee at such a young age, and watching her parents’ strength in the face of adversity, has truly shaped Tran’s values. She understands the power of connection and of hearing every individual’s story.

“A huge part of my job is listening to others. We can’t come into a session imposing our own beliefs and ideas about how things should be done. If you take the time to listen to someone’s story, it will help you determine how best to support them.”

She loves that every day is different at The Benevolent Society, and feels that she is valued for what she brings.

“I love the diversity of my job – no two days are the same. One day I’m researching wheelchair suitability for a client, the next I’m collaborating with Speech Therapists and other Clinicians to empower clients. Working in a multi-disciplinary environment helps me grow as a Therapist.”

“I also enjoy who I work with. That’s huge. My colleagues value my professional opinions, as I do theirs. The Benevolent Society is also open to hearing your opinions, in terms of what’s working well and what’s not, and how to bring about change.”

“I find real job satisfaction with The Benevolent Society. You go home at the end of the day and feel you’ve helped change something, and been able to help someone, even in a small way. That’s special.”

Raising the next generation with heart

With a life of memories and experiences already in hand, a new chapter is on the horizon – she’s pregnant with her first child. Reflecting on where she’s come from and who she’s become, Tran’s hopes for her daughter are simple and beautiful.

“My hope for her is that she’s happy and healthy and knows she can achieve anything she sets her mind to. While education is absolutely important, it is just one element to achieving success and a happy life.”

“Above all I hope she’s a good person. Whatever you do in your life, make sure it is not going to negatively impact someone else. Your decisions are yours to make but try to help others. Being able to give back to the community that has given you so much is important.”

We ask if that’s what she’s trying to do each day. Tran smiles before gently answering, “I think so.”