Why this child care worker says he 'gets funny looks'
WHEN Joraad Tuaivaafau tells other men what he does for a living, he sometimes gets funny looks.
Ditching a traditional male role, Mr Tuaivaafau works in child care and this week was recognised amongst his peers for being a Rising Star in the female-dominated industry.
Mr Tuaivaafau has been working as an assistant educator at the Springfield Child Care and Early Education Centre for the past year and a half.
"I used to work in factory jobs but I got a teachers aide position at the Goodna State School," Mr Tuaivaafau said.
"My contract ran out and a family friend knew the director here was looking for a male staff member.
"I couldn't see myself working in the industry," he admitted.
"I think men don't know they can work in this industry.
"When I first started the director said not all parents might be welcoming."
But he loves the work.
"I love it, I love my job.
"I was surprised that I was nominated, let alone won the state award."
While Mr Tuaivaafau has no kids of his own, he's very experienced with children.
"I have four younger siblings."
There's a 10 year age gap between him and his eldest brother.
"It was just me mum and the kids, I had to help out a lot."
The 22-year-old wants kids of his own one day.
"I can't wait till I have kids," he said.
Mr Tuaivaafau was announced as a state winner in The Australian Early Education and Care Awards, Education Experience Rising Star of the Year category.
And he is now a national finalist competing against two other state winners in his category and will head to national judging interviews held in Sydney next month as part of a three-day professional development event which culminates with a gala awards ceremony.
At these judging interviews, state winners will present their achievements, goals as well as plans for continued quality improvement and innovation to determine the national winners in the categories
If he wins the national award he receives money that can be used for further training and personal development.
Mr Tuaivaafau is currently studying for his diploma in early childhood and once complete plans to do a Bachelors Degree in Primary Education.
"I hope to work back in the public school system one day. When I was a teacher aid I wanted to become a teacher myself."
The national winners of each category will be announced at the Australian Early Education and Care Awards gala event in Sydney on Friday June 15.