First ACT resident with Down Syndrome awarded a Cert III in Children’s Services
The Sector > Workforce > First ACT resident with Down Syndrome awarded a Cert III in Children’s Services

First ACT resident with Down Syndrome awarded a Cert III in Children’s Services

by Freya Lucas

November 13, 2019

Sharon Champion recently gained her Certificate III in Children’s Services from Canberra Institute of Technology, which is significant as she is one of only two Australians with Down Syndrome to achieve the qualification, and the first in the Australian Capital Territory to do so.


Her employers, Stella Bella Children’s Centre, said they were proud of her achievement, noting that while a Certificate III “may seem like a small feat to some, Sharon has worked so much harder than many of her peers to get to this level of study.” 


In an article about her success in The Canberra Times, Sharon, who has been with the centre for nearly two years said she felt excited and happy about gaining her qualification, saying it has made her “feel more confident in me. I’m a hard worker.”. 


Centre Director Suzanne Tunks said it was important to give people with Down Syndrome equal opportunities in the workplace, noting that engaging people with Down Syndrome exclusively as volunteers was a disservice. 


Ms Tunks was also keen to point out that equal opportunities also meant equal treatment, saying “nobody cut any corners for her, quite the opposite” and that Sharon had been treated equally to all the centre’s trainees and paid at the same rate as her peers 


She praised Sharon’s work ethic, saying she rarely missed work, and took four buses each day to get to and from work. 


Stella Bella Children’s Centre, which opened in 2017 serving as both a mainstream child care service and a respite centre for children with complex needs, hopes that Sharon’s appointment will serve as inspiration for other employers to take on employees with Down Syndrome. 


Sharon was supported to gain her qualification by Sarina Russo Apprenticeships, with Business Relationships Manager Sue Black saying Sharon’s determination and drive were integral to her success. 


“Sharon’s such a lovely young woman, and through our existing relationship with Canberra Institute of Technology, she was able to complete her Certificate III and achieve her dream.” 

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