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Caring for communities is in Dean's genes

While helping his mum recover from surgery, Dean Cotter met members of Caboolture’s Health Service industry, setting his career on a whole new trajectory.

After joining Kurbingui Youth & Family Development, Dean has risen through the ranks quickly. He puts his success down to his TAFE Queensland course teaching him the frameworks, processes and knowledge he needs to respond to the situations he often encounters.

“My course taught me how to approach different situations, how to be trauma-informed and know how to adapt to people’s needs which were all key parts of my training with TAFE Queensland,” explained Dean.

“Being able to apply these steps with clients allows me to ensure I get a positive outcome for them when I’m confronted with challenging situations.”

His career in caring began in Caboolture at a young age, while he helped his mum in the kitchen prepare meals for kids in the community doing it tough.

“We’d feed up to fifteen kids, and I’d help Mum with the cooking. I loved to see the positive effect these small acts of kindness had on people, so from there I drifted into hospitality,” said Dean.

His working life began with Sizzler and eventually, he became the kitchen manager at the Coolabah Tree Café.

But after cooking for 14 years, he took time off to help with his mum’s recovery, and that’s when he met an elders group in Caboolture, where he reignited his passion for helping in the community.

“Helping others appealed to me, and I guess it always had since helping Mum in the kitchen, but I didn’t know what careers existed where I could help my community,” said Dean.

After researching available study options, Dean enrolled with TAFE Queensland’s Certificate IV in Child, Youth and Family Intervention (CHC40313) with a view of becoming a program coordinator.

“I had tried an online university, but I learn better in a more practical, immersive and hands-on environment that develops tangible skills backed by theory,” he explained.

During his studies, he was placed with Youth Justice at Redcliffe, before applying for a youth position with Kurbingui Youth & Family Development, who offered him a role as a family wellbeing practitioner.

“I came to Kurbingui hoping to eventually be a program coordinator, but I’ve risen through the ranks quickly thanks to my TAFE Queensland training.”

“I thought it would take me five to seven years to get to where I am now, but I’ve been able to progress quickly in my career and most importantly help clients and get positive results for the community,” he said.

Dean credits his success to the training he received from his teacher, Deb Stephens.

“Deb upskills her students by linking the course theory with practical role playing, so I graduated feeling prepared to manage challenging situations and was able to take my training into the real world,” Dean said.

Being able to respond appropriately to such situations was a key aspect of Dean’s training. He was also taught the importance of self-reflection and the importance of reviewing client interactions to continuously improve.

“By teaching how to build rapport, approach people from different cultures, and ensure clients feel supported through positive interactions, I quickly gain people’s trust and help them more effectively,” he said.

Dean is now thriving by helping young people in his community, an extension of the time he spent with his mum cooking meals for kids all those years ago.

“My passion is helping to improve the outcomes for youth today, so they can break the cycle of intergenerational trauma and have an amazing tomorrow,” he explained.

“By helping them improve their lives at an early stage, we can help create happier and healthier families in the future. As a society we need to pay more attention to the positive impact helping young people does have,” concluded Dean.