The Port Augusta City Council has launched a new program training people with disabilities to gain the necessary skills to obtain employment.
- The Port Augusta City council works with the Community Bridging Services to select the participants
- The program runs for 26 weeks but could be extended to 52
- The access and inclusion program has 12 participants
The access and inclusion program was created to address the unemployment and underemployment issues in the community.
Port Augusta ranks among the top six disadvantaged communities in South Australia.
Two people, including Hayley Mills, have been selected for the 26-week program, with 10 more expected to come on board soon.
Ms Mills has a learning disability, which she says has caused problems in getting a job.
"This is my first official week in the program, and I'm absolutely loving it," she said.
"The staff are amazing, and I'm learning admin. And I love meeting new people and getting back into the swing of working again."
She said the program gave a massive boost to her confidence
Ms Mills is hopeful of finding a job in an administrative role once she completes the program.
City of Port Augusta strategy manager Theressa Hines said the participants would be learning skills to make themselves job ready.
"They're going to gain job knowledge, skills and training in a range of positions across council within the office, depot operations and the cafe," Ms Hines said.
"We have the option to extend the program to 52 weeks, and the participants are welcome to apply for other roles [in the council] during that period, and we will support them with that."
Program creates opportunities
The two participants who completed the pilot program last year both ended up gaining employment.
"Our pilot demonstrated that there is some really good opportunities once the candidates gain good work skills and demonstrate that they've worked every day," Ms Hines said.
"From our perspective, it's a great program that we would envision … [to] roll out across other employers next year."
People who have been unemployed for a significant amount of time can apply through the program via Community Bridging Services (CBS), a not-for-profit organisation supporting people with disability.
"They [CBS] provide us with a list of potential candidates, and then the candidates go through a modified interview process so it's not intimidating or scary," she said.
"From there, we select the appropriate candidates based on the role and their skills, and where they would like to work."
Port Augusta City Council chief executive John Banks said 25 per cent of their community was unemployed or underemployed.
He said it not only impacted the quality of life but also limited prospects for future employment.
"We recognise that this problem has become generational, and the council has engaged in a program to create a proactive solution," Mr Banks said.
"We believe fostering inclusivity and providing job readiness training will benefit not only individuals with disabilities but also the entire community.
"The AIP will create a more inclusive workforce that recognises the skills and contributions of all individuals, regardless of their abilities," he said.