WorkAbility helps disabled find employment

Edward ScownGeraldton Guardian
Les Rose has been driving a delivery truck for manager Jamie O'Brien as part of WorkAbility week
Camera IconLes Rose has been driving a delivery truck for manager Jamie O'Brien as part of WorkAbility week Credit: Picture: Edward Scown

There are about 20,000 jobseekers in WA who live with an injury, illness or disability.

Last week, some of them were introduced to employers in Geraldton during Forrest Personnel’s WorkAbility week.

Once such employer is Foodbank manager Jamie O’Brien. He hosted Les Rose for a week of work experience, during which he did a variety of jobs, from maintenance to truck driving. “Les was exactly what I wanted,” Mr O’Brien said.

Mr Rose previously experienced what he called “a massive breakdown” with depression and anxiety and has struggled to find work. Volunteering at Foodbank is a gradual transition back into working life.

“Confidence is a big thing ... they might be doing the same couple of tasks over and over, but they can say ‘right, I know what I’m doing here’,” Mr O’Brien said.

While a program such as WorkAbility week might not land someone a job right away, employment consultant Elise Jones said an organisation such as Foodbank could provide a good reference — a big step forward for people who may have never held a job.

“We’re trying to show employers it’s not this scary thing, you can hire someone with a disability,” she said. Ms Jones said there was a misconception that people with a disability were a burden, but international research showed they were just as productive as their able-bodied counterparts, took fewer sick days, were involved in less OH&S incidents and stayed with companies longer.

Forrest Personnel chair Iain Massey said building a diverse and inclusive workplace made sound business sense.

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