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Stepping Stone

In a heartwarming tale of dedication and achievement, Susan Barker, hailed as South Australia’s 2023 Best Childcare Educator, embodies the spirit of passion and perseverance in her chosen profession.

Susan reflects on the transformative power of Renewal SA’s Works Program how it changed her life trajectory through the partnership with Stepping Stone (SA) and Child Care Services Training. From embarking on a Certicate III in Early Childhood Education and Care to nearing the completion of a bachelor’s degree with honours, Susan’s dedication and enthusiasm have propelled her forward.

"As far back as I can remember, I wanted to be a kindy teacher," Susan reminisces.

Susan recounts learning about the pre-employment program through Centrelink in 2016, igniting a pivotal chapter in her life. Her journey began with a cohort of 15 individuals, all embarking on their pathways into the childcare sector.

With dreams of nurturing young minds since childhood, her journey is not only marked by professional accolades but also by the profound bonds forged meeting her best friend and other like-minded people.

“We went through the program together, and we met so many other amazing women who have also completed the program and went on to other Stepping Stone (SA) centres,” Susan says.

Not only did she make lifelong friends, her now husband, Josh, is thriving in a role at a neighbouring Stepping Stone (SA) centre after completing the program himself.

Reflecting on the challenges of balancing work and study, Susan acknowledges the difficulty but credits the program partners for providing essential support, including designated study days. Her message to those contemplating the Works Program is unequivocal: "Definitely do it – 100%".

“It has turned my life around completely,” Susan says. “I'm in a much better place now than I used to be, and that's thanks to actually starting the Works Program.”

For Susan, it was a life-changing experience that led her to both professional and personal fulfillment and meaningful connections. As she looks towards the future, Susan’s journey serves as a testament to the profound impact of the pre-employment program in empowering individuals to realise their aspirations and forge lasting bonds.

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