LiveBetter Conversations

We recently caught up with LiveBetter’s Paul Watson to learn more about him. We wanted to know how he came to live in the balmy climes of Gladstone, Queensland, and what it is he loves about his work.
13th June 2024

Many of us Southerners can only dream of a life lived in a sub-tropical paradise. For LiveBetter’s NDIS Program Coordinator Paul Watson,  it’s a dream he gets to live out every single day.

We recently caught up with Paul to learn more about him, how he came to live in the balmy climes of Gladstone, Queensland, and what it is he loves about his work.

A bit of background

Paul is one of five brothers. He grew up in Otorohanga, a small farming community located on New Zealand’s North Island.

“Being in a farming community, we mostly hung out on the farm, or out in the bush – and we loved our sport.”

As much as he enjoyed the great outdoors, Paul also had a love of learning and a passion for helping others and after completing school he was off to university to study teaching.

Although this seemed a good fit at the time, ultimately, it wasn’t for him, and after two years of study, he decided to take a short break – and he never went back.

Instead, he found his true calling.

“I knew a couple of guys who lived with disability. I would see them at the club and play pool with them. They were great guys, and both had people supporting them. I thought ‘What a great job! Supporting people to learn new skills – to achieve their goals and live a good life. What a great way to earn a living!’”.

Paul went on to work in New Zealand’s community sector for twenty years before deciding to cross the ditch and settle in Gladstone two years ago.

I needed a change, and I wanted to see my nephew grow up. One day I was sitting at the soccer club with a mate and spotted a position at LiveBetter on SEEK. I thought I’d apply and see how I got on…and here I am.

Paul now lives with his brother and his brother’s family as well as two dogs, two cats…and a snake who makes the occasional (uninvited) appearance.

On Gladstone

“Coming from New Zealand to Gladstone has been a big change – especially getting used to the heat and the lack of rain…and don’t get me started on the wildlife! Everything seems to want to bite you here!”

“We’ve six staff in Gladstone and two in Bundaberg. It might be a small team, but it’s a great team and we work really well together. We all know we can rely on each other – that we have each other’s backs.”

On LiveBetter

Paul truly believes that everyone deserves the opportunity to achieve their goals in life.

“The work we do at LiveBetter is really important,” says Paul. “ Supporting people to live independently, to live a life like other people. Just seeing people achieve goals is what it’s all about. Achieving goals and living a good life!”

However, learning new skills, and working towards goals is not easy, and there can be setbacks and frustrations along the way.

Some days it’s gonna be hard. The people we support can get frustrated.  You just need to sit down and let them debrief. Encourage them to stay positive, to not give up. To come back tomorrow and try again.”

Quick Questions

What is the best thing about your work?

“The staff and the people we support. Just seeing them enjoy life and learn new skills – taking those baby steps.”

What is the most challenging thing about your work?

“There are not enough hours in the day. It’s full on all the time.”

Top tip to manage work-life balance?

“Do something you enjoy. Something that isn’t associated with work.”

What keeps you going, getting up and doing it all again, each day?

“Having that opportunity to support people achieve their goals in life – support them to enjoy life.”

Hopes for the future.

“That’s a difficult one. I’ve been in Australia for two years – that’s two years into a five-year plan. But it does depend on my mum’s health – she’s getting older, and things can change so quickly.”

Where to next?

“Ultimately, I’d like to take some of the things I have learned about the NDIS here back to New Zealand. I’d like to be able to change things for the better there.”

If there was one piece of advice you could give to others who are starting in the community sector, what would it be?

“Just enjoy it. Relax and enjoy it, and always do your best to support others. Give everything a go. Learn as much as you can and remember, having the opportunity to help people is something not everyone gets to do.”

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