Accepting & Embracing Cultural Diversity In The Role Of A Support Worker
It is said that empathy is one of the greatest lenses in the world. To be able to understand and ‘walk in someone else’s shoes’ enables us as individuals, and a society collectively, to see things in a different light. This is particularly true when we look through the lens at cultural and religious diversity.
As we dive further into the Cultural Diversity of Maple Services, this week we interviewed one of our Disability Support Workers, Ratu S W Tagivakatini. He spoke to his views about his culture and how he has balanced the incorporation of his Fijian heritage into his personal and professional in Australian life and way of living.
Ratu, aged 45, is a practising Christian who belongs to Melanesian group within the roots of Indigenous Fijian. Ratu currently calls NSW home, having made the move to Australia in 2019 under a Humanitarian Visa . He moved here to start the next chapter of his life with the ultimate goal of providing a better life for his family and his 3 beautiful children. His ‘mother tongue’ is Fijian which he speaks with his family and friends. For Ratu, speaking in his native language, as well as celebration traditional cultural events and occasions, are two ways he feels connected to his heritage whilst living overseas.
Ratu educational skillset is one to be admired by most. Having completed studies in both Fiji and Australia, Ratu holds qualifications in Electronics Engineering, Technology, Management, and Community Support and Services to name a few. He worked in the ICT sector prior to grabbing an opportunity to join the Maple team as a support worker where he would dedicate his professional career to supporting some of society’s most vulnerable. Ratu learned to adapt new perspectives about Australian culture and Aussie slangs from his clients and co-support workers. The most mind-boggling perception he acquired was learning about other different religious and cultural communities, especially the LGBTQI+ community, which is not acceptable in his religion. However, through his education and service of work, he adapted to the philosophy of respecting every individual’s right and belief. He sees this acceptance and inclusion as one of Australia’s greatest assets.
Ratu admires the support given by Maple Management. He loves working with his clients varying from different age brackets and disability classifications, taking his clients out for adventures and assisting them in their daily routines to achieve their goals towards greater equality. He relishes every experience – including challenges and achievements, setbacks and goal attainments – with an overarching moto to support with passion, positivity, and affection.
“If you have the passion in your work, automatically a positive drive will follow. You start your shift with a smile and end your shift with a smile leaving your client happy.”
In Ratu’s opinion, cultural diversity and inclusivity is a very valuable asset for an individual in a professional environment, as they feel respected and valued for who they are and for their unique contribution in society. This, in turn, fosters mutual respect among individuals who also value the diverse culture, perspectives, and experiences of their fellow community, and can take one’s career in an exciting new direction just like it did for Ratu.