Community-based supported employment program changing lives of people – Ausnew Home Care

Community-based supported employment program changing lives of people with disability

disability Disability Employment Services disability law disability stereotypes intellectual disability Living With a Disability NDIS NDIS Aged Care Approved no ‘dis’ in disability.

It's unlikely to be everyone's favourite job, but Leif Barstad loves emptying the office bins at the farm machinery business where he works every Friday.

He greets each colleague with a grin as he pushes a trolley around and empties the desk bins into a rubbish bag.

His HR manager at Tasmac, Nat Layton, said Mr Barstad's cheeky sense of humour had made him popular among his colleagues.

"Fridays are our favourite day of the week here at the Devonport branch," she said.

"He brings his smiley face and his quirky comments and his cheeky jokes and we just feel wonderful seeing him here and seeing the good job he does."

A man in a hi-vis vest stands between an older couple, his parents.
Leif Barstad’s parents say their son is excited to go to work each Friday.(

ABC News: Selina Ross


Mr Barstad has Down syndrome and is part of a changing approach to disability employment.

The 29-year-old and his family worked with support service Possability to find mainstream employment that matched his skills and interests.

Ms Layton said Tasmac originally brought Mr Barstad into the business on a trial basis to clean farm machinery in the showroom.

"There are things here that need to be done all the time and there's not always the people to do it," she said.

a blonde woman stands in a showroom-like space with a red tractor in the background
HR manager Nat Layton says Tasmac is looking at hiring more people with disabilities.  (

ABC News: Selina Ross


"We wanted to bring someone in to do some of those jobs, so that we're not bringing apprentices off the floor when they should be learning, not taking other people out of their jobs."

Mr Barstad quickly showed his potential, expanding the list of tasks he was responsible for to include filing, stuffing envelopes and cleaning the yard.

The team created a jobs board using photographs of Mr Barstad performing different tasks to help provide him with visual cues.

"Leif has an excellent work ethic," Ms Layton said.

"He picks the job that he wants to do off the job board and off he goes."

Ms Layton said other businesses could benefit from the same approach.

"We've found this so seamless that we're actually looking to develop this into our other premises as well, because it's such a great opportunity and gives so much, not only to people like Leif but to our employees and to our community as well," she said.

Matching skills and interests

People with significant intellectual, physical or mental disabilities have traditionally found work through sheltered workshops or disability enterprises.

A blonde woman wearing a black top printed with red and white roses looks at the camera
Julie Penney from Possability says the service provider is matching clients’ skills and interests with mainstream employers.(

ABC News: Selina Ross


The pay was generally low — in some cases only a few dollars an hour.

Service provider Possability is now working with clients and their families to match their skills and interests with mainstream employers.

Possability's employment manager, Julie Penney, said while there had historically been plenty of employment opportunities, the jobs did not necessarily have the required support for the person living with disability.

"So the change for us is to be supplying a support worker to come to work with them and provide all the on-the-job support for that individual," she said.

Clients work through the supported employee award.

"We have a productivity assessment done by an independent assessor and that determines what the productivity rate is," Ms Penney said.

"Therefore, if they're working at a 50 per cent capacity, they would earn 50 per cent of the base level award rate, which is $20.41."

Ms Penney said the community-based supported employment program had been very well received.

"We've had a really great uptake of participants and we're really keen to engage with more employers," she said.

"We've got a lot of people looking for opportunities and if anyone's fearful of how they can go about it or want to know more, they can always reach out."

Making a difference

The ability to earn a better wage has made a huge difference to the life of Michael Mansfield.

He works two days a week at St Giles support service in Hobart and now prides himself on being able to pay bills at home.

A man in a jacket stands in front of a binding machine in a stationery room
Michael Mansfield works two days a week at support service St Giles in Hobart.(

ABC News: Selina Ross


"I like getting up in the morning and coming in to work," he said.

Mr Mansfield's support worker comes in for an hour in the morning to help him get set up for the day and then he works independently.

His roles include document scanning and binding, and washing toys and play spaces in between the service's appointments with young clients.

Nic Stephen, chief operating officer at disability support provider St Giles, said integrating Mr Mansfield into the workplace had been very straightforward.

"We've only had to modify a couple of the activities. We've done some basic things like taking photos of the steps of tasks so he that can follow those visual cues," he said.

"He's thrived very quickly."


Source: ABC

Older Post Newer Post