Lloyd Janetzki has worked with Deaf Services for over 25 years, and has seen many changes within both the organisation and the community it represents. We caught up with him to find out more.
“Those early days were great,” remembers Lloyd. “I really enjoyed the work. I was so motivated. We had great support from federal funding.”
Unfortunately a change in government policy meant that Disability Employment Networks (DENs) such as Sign On Employment came under the purview of a new department and a new system of evaluation for how providers were “servicing” job seekers.
“It was a system that didn’t work for the community,” Lloyd says, “and it led to less options for Deaf job-seekers, not more.”
After 12 ½ years in his role at Sign On Employment, Lloyd moved into a new fulltime role with Lifestyle Support Services (LSS), which gave him the chance to develop the interpersonal skills that have brought great joy to both himself and countless others.
“My new role was as Program Developer,” says Lloyd. “It was my first job working full-time directly with clients. I was actually really glad to be back with a client-based service.”
From LSS, Lloyd transitioned his role to a new service arm: Deaf Services’ Aged Care program, now known as Ageing Well.
This is where Lloyd still works as Ageing Well Activity Planner, Volunteer Program Coordinator and, when he can, Support Worker.
Lloyd says it’s a challenge to work across quite diverse roles, especially as the funding landscape for Aged Care has undergone a number of changes.
“Now there are Home Care packages instead of block funding, we now have to ‘win’ the participants. We do this, of course, by providing them with the best level of service as possible.”
“My motto is ‘treat the client the way you would treat yourself’.”
Lloyd has been present for a significant period of transition and growth within Deaf Services, working alongside five different CEOs and within continued growth, innovation and opportunities.
One of the developments Lloyd is most proud to have been involved with is a shift in organisational philosophy, away from the traditional thinking of a disability service providing “welfare” to the community they represented.
“Where I’ve seen such a big change is empowering our clients, participants and community members to make decisions. Even when I was studying, I was thinking what is empowerment, and what does it mean to empower somebody?”
Lloyd remembers this philosophy informing his work early on, when working for Sign On Employment.
“I would say to the clients I’m looking for a job and you’re looking for a job. It’s not me doing everything for you.”
Another shift Lloyd identifies is the broad adjustment he—and the wider Deaf community—has had to make as Deaf Services continues to grow and expand. While still retaining a strong connection to its community roots, the organisation now operates as a recognised and professional leader in the non-profit sector.
“I’ve learned a lot about respecting boundaries,” he explains. “As a Deaf professional, I have to know when to draw the line. It’s not easy because I’m in that community myself, I’m a part of it. It’s about making it clear that Monday to Friday I’m at work, but on the weekends I’m not. It’s been a journey for the community, as well, to accept that change, in the way they view Deaf Services.”
Lloyd with Ageing Well client Dot.
It’s fair to say that the favourite part of Lloyd’s professional life is working with clients. From early on, it was clear that he had an aptitude for creating rapport with a wide range of people within the community.
“I really enjoy working with clients. They’re very special people. I’ve learned a lot from them. They’ve taught me so much. And that’s how I’ve become who I am.”
The secret to his success, according to Lloyd, is simple.
“I’m fun!” he says. “My motto is treat the client the way you would treat yourself. We’re equals. In the past, people would make decisions for the client they were working with. I always make sure I don’t do this. I let the clients get excited about what they want, about making choices. It gives them the opportunity to try new things.”
Lloyd says his work with Ageing Well has bought him into contact with a range of clients with differing needs, who have allowed him to continue to improve and challenge the way he works.
“I work with people who could be Deaf, Deafblind or living with complex disabilities, so I have to adjust the way I work with each person as I get to know them. It’s often finding ways to deal with limited language or communication. It can be as simple as drawing pictures. Whatever it is, I’m always learning.”
Lloyd with his award for 25 years of service with Deaf Services.
Accolades are not high on Lloyd’s priority list. Recently he was awarded a trophy for his 25 years of service during a special ceremony at Deaf Services Staff Forum, but was not there to personally receive it. Why? Because he was with a client, and didn’t want to cancel their meeting.
“I think maybe when I hit 30 years I’ll be satisfied,” he jokes.