Service Coordinator for Macquarie, Charles Agbapulonwu is described by clients and colleagues as passionate, understanding, caring and funny too.

 

Charles was named our 2020 Employee of the Year after being nominated by his colleagues, clients, families and carers for his outstanding professionalism. His ability to inspire and lift people’s spirits to make them laugh is a quality that makes him stand out as a leader.

In turn, Charles says supporting people with disabilty is a privilege.

“I feel fortunate to be involved in the clients' lives so that they can achieve their goals and have a better life,” Charles says.

“Whenever I do my work, I do it to honour the opportunities given to me by my managers who I really enjoyed learning from, particularly Ruchika Mangla and Taher Hessam at Achieve,” he says.

“Charles is a good listener and is encouraging rather than critical. He leads by example and provides opportunities for growth for his team,” his previous manager Taher Hessam says.

Even from a young age growing up as the eldest of 6 in Nigeria, helping others was just part of life for Charles.

“My family was always involved in helping people in communities, orphanages and prisons at our church. Through our charity work, we were taught to do good things for other people,” Charles says.

Charles was encouraged by his father to study in Singapore. After completing qualifications in Computer Science and IT in 2014, he came to Australia and worked in his chosen field but felt unfulfilled.

Inspired by a friend working in the disability sector, Charles forged a new career path but had to return to study. By that time, he and his wife were raising a young family but he was confident of his career choice. 

After completing his disability studies, Charles got a job in the sector providing complex care for clients with quadriplegia. “I loved my work and the experience I got in complex supports. It was exactly what I wanted to do, to help people who appreciate it,” he says.

In 2016, Charles joined Achieve Australia as a Social Educator but his outstanding work saw him promoted. In his current role as a Service Coordinator, he looks after 4 community homes at Crowle Estate, supporting 17 clients and more than 30 staff.

Charles has many client stories that have inspired him over the years, but it was one client who challenged him to push the boundaries.

The client was a young man living at Crowle who has schizophrenia, ADHA, autism and personality attachment disorder with challenging behaviours. At the time, daily living and receiving support was very difficult and distressing for the client. Working with the client’s family, Charles went to work to set up regular staff rosters and daily living routines and this helped the client improve over time.

“The client began stepping out of his comfort zone, recognising regular staff and interacting and trusting us more,” says Charles. “We moved the client from his current workplace where he wasn’t getting paid to AchievAble Enterprises. Here he received training, support and the chance to earn his own money. He became more stable in that supportive work environment and still works there now.”

Charles then started supporting the young man to get his own driver’s license to further his independence and self-confidence. It was a proud moment for Charles. “I realised then that anything is possible, we can achieve anything.”