Covid crisis, cancer: IMPACT graduate overcomes challenges Francisco Paez isn’t likely to ever forget the past few months. Francisco has overcome a diagnosis of cancer, is dealing with loved ones isolated in Spain because of COVID-19 and has just graduated from IMPACT Community Services with his Certificate III in Individual Support (Disability) CHC33015. He looks forward to a career working in the disability support sector. The Certificate III course has lasted 18 weeks, 14 of which were in the classroom and four with a service provider where Francisco got his 120 hours of vocational placement. He praised IMPACT for delivering the support needed so he and his classmates could make it through to completion while also ensuring everyone’s safety during the unfolding coronavirus situation. “We were lucky that most of the class were out on placements, so it didn't made a huge difference,” Francisco said. “Several returned to class to complete study, but most were already out on placement, practising what they'd learned. “We've been vigilantly social distancing and our trainer, Elise Cottam, has been making sure we followed all the necessary hygiene and social protocols.” The importance of following all the necessary precautions is front of mind for Francisco. His entire family is back in Spain, and the country’s dire circumstance are a big concern for him. But he is glad that Australia is taking the precautionary measures seriously. “I take my hat off to them,” Francisco said. “In Spain they ignored this problem initially and it was too late once the virus had set in.” Francisco said he had found true happiness in the disability sector and didn't consider it work. His journey to the sector began as a gardener with Community Lifestyle Support in Kalkie. He did a vocational questionnaire and found out that he was best suited to be a disability support worker. Studying through IMPACT, he said he did his placement at CLS and they had asked him to stay on to work. Francisco said he couldn't be happier. In the midst of all this, he was diagnosed with cancer in December and underwent an operation. Fortunately, it was successful, and after 26 tests, they have all come back negative. Francisco is proud that he was back at work within a week. “Perseverance and persistence have paid off,” Francisco said. “I hope we can all survive this coronavirus and get back to our lives.” Ms Cottam praised the students for their positive approach to completing the course under sometimes difficult circumstances. “They are learning and enjoying the industry so much,” Ms Cottam said. This course has 24 students. “I'm very proud of all my students and how they have conducted themselves in the industry and with the new rules,” Ms Cottam said. IMPACT Community Services is a Registered Training Organisation (RTO 0115). Enrolments are currently being taken for the next round of courses. For more information call IMPACT on 4153 4233.