From casework to car seat covers: a career change for Stephanie

One year ago, Stephanie Coe was working as a child protection caseworker in Dubbo and feeling defeated by the volume and nature of cases she was working on.

“Even though I enjoyed parts of the job, it was very taxing, and I felt emotionally and socially drained at the end of each day,” Ms Coe said.

“I knew I couldn’t keep working like that and that a career change would be good for me, but I also needed an income to support my family.”

That’s when Ms Coe approached not-for-profit employment services provider VERTO where she was signed up to the Australian Government’s Workforce Australian program, a move she said has made her rethink her career options and find work in a new profession.

“My consultant Belinda was supportive and understanding and encouraged me to think beyond my existing skill set. She could see I was burnt out and not yet ready to go back into casework,” Ms Coe said.

“Over time, I really began to trust Belinda and VERTO and I could see they wanted me to succeed. That gave me so much confidence in trying out a new career.

“I was encouraged to do several short courses, including the RSA, RCG and Barista training, which opened my eyes to new opportunities and added credentials to my CV.

“I can be pretty stubborn at times, and I find the idea of change challenging, but Belinda was very patient and helped me redefine what career and balance is all about,” she said.

At the end of last year, Stephanie landed a job with Allied Seating Group in Dubbo working as an upholsterer, a career change she says she never saw coming but one that she is enjoying.

“If someone had told me 12 months ago that I’d be making car seat covers, I wouldn’t have believed them. But I’m thoroughly enjoying working in a ‘hands-on’ trade as part of a supportive team,” Ms Coe said.

“It’s the opposite of what I was doing as a caseworker, where I was governed by red tape, reporting and procedures. I’m now using my hands working with different materials and learning new skills every day - it’s very rewarding.”

Ms Coe said she’s not sure what the future holds, but upholstery has been the career break she needed from the demands of stressful child protection caseloads.

“I might return to child protection in a few years once I’ve had a break. Or I might decide that I love my new job and turn that into a new career,” she said.

VERTO Workforce Australia Regional Manager, Aimee McMillan, commended Stephanie for having the courage to change careers and seek out help when she needed it.

“Stephanie knew she needed to make changes in her work life and was open to trying new things, which demonstrated to us that she was a committed and enthusiastic job seeker,” Ms McMillan said.

VERTO CEO Ron Maxwell believes Ms Coe’s story should inspire job seekers who are looking for a career change to explore their options.

“It can be difficult and extremely daunting to change jobs and industries, but Stephanie is proof that anything is possible, and help is at hand,” Mr Maxwell said.

“I’m proud that the team in Dubbo were able to help Stephanie find work and support her as she found her feet in a completely new industry.”


VERTO is a community owned, not-for-profit organisation delivering a range of apprenticeship, community support, employment and training services to assist individuals, employers and industries. We can be found in over 60 locations across the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales and Victoria. For more information, visit