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.
Sanjay Muniandy – MercyCare Support Worker
A severe accident as a young man led Sanjay Muniandy to Australia where he went from settlement client to employed support worker; and it was in Australia he discovered his natural talent for working with people with disabilities.
At 22 years-old Sanjay was involved in a car accident in Malaysia where he sustained facial, knee, spinal and brain injuries. His arduous recovery took two-and-a-half years.
“My family members looked at me like I had a disability,” Sanjay said. “I’d tell my Dad, ‘Don’t look at me like that. I’m just a normal person and I’m able to work’. My Dad would reply, ‘You can’t do that, you can’t work’.”
Sanjay left Malaysia for Australia in 2013. Despite numerous promises of sponsorship when working, none came to fruition.
Sanjay made it his mission to become fluent in English alongside his native Tamil, in addition to his competency in Malay, Chinese and Hindi.
His English teacher suggested a new career path. “He said: ‘Sanjay, you’re a different kind of character, why not try to working with people with disabilities?’”
Eventually Sanjay was put in touch with MercyCare’s Complementary Services Program where he expanded his English and looked for employment opportunities.
He was offered a position as a Support Worker with MercyCare’s Disability Services in 2018. From there, both Sanjay and his clients have flourished.
“I’m happy I can teach my clients different things and encourage them. While their life isn’t perfect, I love that I can help them in some way.”
“Sometimes when I first meet a client they don’t want to listen and open up to other people. I just go nice with them, slowly we can change.
“For example, I had this one client who never went outside. While not everyone wants to go outside, some are like birds put inside a cage – they feel like they want to fly, and they have got the wings to use.
“Now my client goes walking with me, we go for a coffee, some breakfast, the park. He starts to listen to me.
“Before he didn’t want to clean his house, so I say, ‘If you want to go out tomorrow, we have to do the house cleaning’. Next time I visit, he has cleaned the whole house before I even got there at nine o’clock and he’s waiting for me and says, ’What’s the plan to go out today?’”
Engaging with people from all walks of life comes naturally to Sanjay. “I’m just normal with everyone.”
When his family visited him, they were shocked Sanjay had chosen support work over his trade
as a mechanic.
“I tell them support work is a new world for me. I love when I see my clients, they feel happy they have someone to spend time with and share their life. They feel trust.
“While I earn some money to work for these people it’s not really about that. The passion comes straight from my heart.”
In his time away from work, Sanjay loves to travel to Albany and Margaret River to fish and cook for big groups of friends.
“My friends are from all different countries. I just learn from everyone. Human is human.”