Raewyn Brownhill: Finding a new direction

Raewyn Brownhill - a woman is dressed in a blue shirt with a logo that reads Yappy Days Doggy Daycare. A grey dog is sitting next to her.

Ongoing back issues kept Raewyn Brownhill out of the workforce for the best part of a decade, but our Kwinana-Rockingham team worked with her to build her experience and confidence so she was able to take advantage of the right job opportunity when it came along. This her story.

I’ve had a lot of back problems for 10 years. I have scoliosis in my lower back. It will just give out, which has made it difficult. I did try some volunteer work while back, but ultimately I’ve had 9 years off work with illness and back issues.

I wasn’t happy with the first employment services provider that Centrelink sent me to. They didn’t really understand. I asked to change providers, and I was sent to a nurse for assessment. After that Centrelink referred me to Forrest Personnel.

I had my first meeting with Sarah from Forrest Personnel at the start of the COVID pandemic in 2020. Our first meeting was socially distanced, she had to leave forms on a bench for me to sign, then move away, so I could pick them up and sign them, then I would move away – that kind of thing.

Sarah is the best employment consultant that I’ve ever met. She went through everything. We talked about my health and back issues, we talked about what I can do, what I have experience in, what I like to do. I also told her office jobs drive me crazy.

Then she looked around at what was in my area. I did some work at Containers for Change, but it wasn’t a good fit for me. There was lot of noise, which I didn’t like.

A different opportunity

Sarah came back to me with a suggestion to do some work experience at Yappy Days Doggy Day Care. She just said “How about just trying some work experience here?”. I thought okay, why not.

I got to play with dogs all day and I loved it. I did work experience for two months over July and August last year, and when I finished, Janice, the owner said if she had the budget, she would give me a job. But at that point, she wasn’t in a position to offer one.

Then in January this year, she got in touch. She said one of the girls was leaving and she asked me if I wanted the job. I did, and I started working there.

My day mostly involves playing with the dogs, cleaning up after them, talking to their owners at pick up. I work Monday to Thursday, from 1pm til close, which is around 6pm. I also make dogfood.

Since I get to go at my own pace, it’s not strenuous on my back. It’s actually been good for me because both of my dogs died this year, so spending time with other dogs has been lovely.

I now sometimes dog sit for some clients – they know me and trust me with their dogs.

Having this job has been so good for me, for my mental health, for my self-respect.

Just knowing someone would give me a chance, it was so important. It was hard, knowing that you could do a certain job, but no one would look at you because you were over 50 and your experience wasn’t recent enough.

It’s also nice to have actual cash so I can pay my bills when they are due.

Forrest Personnel supports people with an injury, illness or disability to find and keep jobs.
Whether you are looking for work or looking for staff – we would love to work with you. 
Send us an email or call us on 1800 224 548.