On the up and up

In a few short years, Cassie Wallace has gone from being an out-of-work volunteer at Uniting AgeWell to receiving an excellence award for leading a team which is part of the engine room of the organisation.

And ever humble, Cassie can still recall the defining moment that changed the course of her life.

After 18 months of sitting around at home as an unemployed university graduate, Cassie decided to “get off her butt” and start volunteering. And when a one-day-a-week volunteer admin position at Uniting AgeWell came up, she jumped at the opportunity.

Her value was soon recognised and she was offered a permanent role. And fast-forward eight years and Cassie, who leads a team which is a critical component of the engine room of Uniting AgeWell, has recently received a highly-prestigious organisation-wide Excellence Award for Corporate and Support Services.

She was one of a handful of the organisation’s close on 4000 employees to receive this accolade after being nominated by fellow workers.

At the recent awards, the Team Leader of the Workforce Planning Team was praised as being a humble, kind, and giving person, whose first thought is to help others. Her citation said:

“She has been a driving force in maintaining team morale during the pandemic and supporting the organisation through the staffing challenges brought on by COVID-19.

Cassie’s dedication, commitment and sheer hardwork has ensured that staffing levels in residential care have been optimised and new systems and structures successfully implemented.

Cassie is a person who loves to learn and continually strives to be the best they can be. Her capacity to connect with people across the organisation, to make the workplace fun, and to inspire others, is to be celebrated.”

“Volunteering was the key to doors opening for me,” Cassie says. “Not only did it give me a sense of purpose, but it was the best career move I ever made. The experience gave me skills, Uniting AgeWell trained me and gave me a broad range of opportunities.”

She was also recently one of a handful of employees from across the organisation chosen to participate in a Uniting AgeWell course to develop her leadership skills and be “grown” to take on even greater responsibility.

So where did it all start for Cassie?

The early years

Cassie was raised in the outer-eastern suburbs of Melbourne and did a Bachelor of Arts majoring in sociology and human resources at Swinburne University.

During her schooling and university years, she worked at McDonald’s, starting off behind the counter, then working in the kitchen and finally upsizing to training new recruits.

After she graduated from Swinburne, Cassie started applying for jobs. In between she did a few placements here and there, working at family companies doing a variety of odd jobs.

Volunteering provides a pathway

“After 18 months of basically being unemployed, I was bored. So I decided to start volunteering to keep busy,” she explains. Cassie is a die-hard Richmond supporter who loves all sport and she started volunteering at the Brisbane Lions Football Club and for the Cricket World Cup.

The admin volunteer role at UA came up - and the rest is history. It morphed into a paid casual position, and her big break came and in 2016 she was offered full time work in the rostering team. Now was her chance to put into practice all her experience in juggling her various part time roles across here, there and everywhere. Her dedication and enthusiasm was quickly recognised and she was promoted to her current position in 2019.

Passion for aged care

“It’s a massive task,” Cassie admits. “The team looks after the staff rostering for all the residential sites across Victoria and Tasmania. Think nurses, direct care workers, hotel services, cleaning, laundry… And in the context of COVID-19, sick leave, holidays and staff being unable to work across multiple sites, juggling shifts has been pretty challenging and we have done everything we can to help out as much as possible and try to make things easier for all of them.”

Cassie is passionate about aged care.

“I love being able to make a difference to people’s lives. My work has purpose, it matters,” she says.

And Cassie cannot speak highly enough of how supportive and inclusive Uniting AgeWell is.

“The organisation saw potential in me and invested in me. My gender and age are irrelevant. It’s just the best person for the job.”

And Cassie is quick to pay tribute to all the help and mentoring she has received in getting to where she is today. “The organisation is huge but it has a human heart. People make mistakes from time to time. But we are all encouraged to learn from our mistakes, to be best versions of ourselves.”

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