Two IDEA Services staff who were among the first in New Zealand to enrol in the Open Polytechnic Graduate Diploma in Disability Sector Leadership (Level 7), have recently graduated.
IHC Specialist Trainer Learning and Development, Beth Wheeler says she enrolled in the programme because she thought it would be a fantastic opportunity to extend her knowledge of the disability sector and “better understand where we need to be, and how we might get there.”
“Getting my head around the funding and contracting environment was probably the hardest part but the graduate diploma did really help me understand some of the incredible challenges services within the disability sector must navigate,” she says.
“The learning I enjoyed most was having the opportunity and support to explore how we can align our practices to meet the promise of the Disability Strategy, and to consider what genuine citizenship means for the people we support.”
IDEA Services West Central Auckland Service Manager, Natasha Geo says her manager suggested she may enjoy the Graduate Diploma in Disability Sector Leadership. “I have always enjoyed learning and looking for ways to develop professionally so I can improve the way we support our people.”
“The courses that were most appealing to me were on community development and engagement, and funding, service provision and evaluation of programmes. I saw those courses as a direct theoretical base for the practical work we do as Service Managers every day.”
Natasha says the graduate diploma has given her greater skills in time management, a better understanding of the difference between consultation and engagement (and how engagement can empower and develop skills), an understanding of how to support staff when they join the organisation, and an appreciation of broader funding, and service provision requirements for the not-for-profit sector.
“I think this graduate diploma is valuable to Service Managers to help us build more idealistic ways of working that enable our staff to develop professionally and empower the people we support. It is certainly a challenge to manage study within our workloads but is achievable within a supportive team – a lesson that can be applied in many contexts.”
IHC National Manager Learning and Development, Trish Brosnan says she’s delighted, having observed their progress along the way, to see the first two people graduate.
“The learners have consistently praised the relevance of the study and their enjoyment of both the content and interactions with their tutors and peers.”
“I would highly recommend the programme to anyone who is looking to advance their leadership career in the disability sector.”
Open Polytechnic Programme Delivery Manager Susan Dey says the qualification delivered by online distance learning, was developed after extensive stakeholder consultation that identified the need for a qualification to support career pathways and develop leadership skills in the disability sector.
“The great thing about the programme is the applied focus so learners can relate their study to their current employment and professional experiences.”
“With this qualification they now have theory and knowledge to extend their professional practice. The last course learners complete involves a research project and this gives each learner the opportunity to explore an issue that is of particular interest and of relevance to them.”
For more information about the Graduate Diploma in Disability Leadership (Level 7) visit: