Welcome to our special series celebrating Diversity and Inclusion in MercyCare’s employees, volunteers and service users. Our stories are accompanied by Steve Wise’s remarkable photographs, that show how these ordinary, yet extraordinary, people are individually effecting change for themselves and the people around them. We hope you enjoy their personal stories.
Alex Kurz – MercyCare Early Childhood Educator
Faced with a choice between a compulsory year in the German military or in a social service, Alex Kurz opted for the social stream, choosing to work in an early learning centre. The decision changed the direction of his working life.
“I always liked kids and playing and mucking around, just bringing the best out of them. It’s just great when they smile and you can teach them something, give them something for their life.
“Working in the childcare centre in Stuttgart, that was the first time I come into contact working with children and I really liked it. I went back after the year to work in an office again and spent seven years behind a desk, but I knew it wasn’t for me,” Alex said.
In 2003, he came to Australia for a holiday and fell in love with the country he had dreamt about visiting since he was a teenager.
“At school we had a geography teacher who talked a lot about America and Australia, and since then Australia was always, for me, a dream.
“I actually wrote a letter as a teenager to the Australian Embassy in Germany asking how it works and how I could go to Australia. They actually answered me. It’s been a dream since back then.”
In 2007 Alex and his partner made the move to Australia, and with a change in continents he decided on a change in career too.
“I always wanted to do something with children back home and then we came here, and the opportunity was there, and I took it.”
He started working at MercyCare’s Wembley Early Learning Centre in 2007 with a diverse group of educators.
“We’ve got people born in India, Poland, Croatia, Bosnia, England, Serbia, South Africa, Mauritius, Romania and obviously a few Aussies as well. The children are from all different backgrounds too.
“It works well because it’s good that you learn from other cultures as well, not just from your own.
“There’s different cultures, foods, languages and different behaviours in the way people handle different scenarios.”
Alex is indifferent to any adverse opinions about him working in what has been a traditionally female-dominated role.
“It really makes no difference to me. Sometimes I get a funny reaction from people outside work, but for people at work or the children, they just see me as Alex.”