Ausnew Home Care | Rising demand helps people with disabilities return to rural workforce

Rising demand helps people with disabilities return to rural workforce

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Four years ago, George Gale lost his job. 

For more than 30 years, the sandblaster from Margaret River worked across Western Australia, eventually settling in the mining town of Kalgoorlie.

But when the engineering company he had worked at for more than a decade made him redundant, Mr Gale, who has epilepsy, struggled to find employment.

"When I got to the 13th year, they put me off, made me redundant, they just put 10 of us off," he said.

The 61-year-old worked several odd jobs across the Goldfields, but when the work dried up — and he was unable to find long-term employment — he was left with few options.

Because of his epilepsy, Mr Gale said he was unable to work in the same industries he had years of experience in.

"I just sat on the dole looking for work every day," he said.

a bald man in glasses wearing a pink tank top. Ausnew Home Care, NDIS registered provider, My Aged Care
After being diagnosed with epilepsy, George Gale struggled to find work.(ABC Goldfields-Esperance: Andrew Chounding)

Jobs out there 

Mr Gale lost his house and was forced to file for bankruptcy.

"It was hard on me and my wife because we had to try to make house payments and everything else," he said.

After two years of looking for a job, Mr Gale secured work through a labour-hire company where he collects trolleys for a local supermarket.

He said after such a long time, finding any work was a relief.

"It's a different kind of relief," he said.

"The work I'm doing at the moment, anyone can do it, there are jobs out there, anyone can do this job, it is not hard."

a woman with brown hair and a black and white top in front of a white wall
Renae Hartmann says demand for workers in the Goldfields is growing.(ABC Goldfields-Esperance: Andrew Chounding)

Growing demand 

Renae Hartmann is the head of service delivery at Forest Personnel, a labour-hire company that helps people with injuries or disabilities find work in rural communities.

She says the company had recently scaled up its services in places like Kalgoorlie to meet the rise in demand from businesses and people with disabilities looking for work.

"There is definitely an increased demand in the area for services," she said.

"Since the start of November, we have had the most commencements and placements for people with disability in our history of 15 years of service in Kalgoorlie."

She said the company had entered into employment agreements with national companies like Woolworths to provide employment, but said opportunities were not limited to one industry.

"It can be any industry, it can be any employer," she said.

"We have a range of hospitality and retail, we are in the mining sector, we have labouring roles, we have traineeships, administration, apprenticeships, all sorts of jobs."

'No excuse' 

A man in a suit speaking to someone to the left of frame.
Labor MLC for the Mining and Pastoral Region, Kyle McGinn.(ABC News: Keane Bourke)

Mr Gale said the Goldfields had a reputation for wealth and prosperity where work was easy to come by, but for people with disabilities that was not always the case.

Labor MLC Kyle McGinn is the Parliamentary Secretary to Disability Services Minister Don Punch and said businesses needed to stop viewing people with a disability as a "barrier".

He said with the expanding labour-hire market in the Goldfields, there would be new opportunities for people looking for employment in the retail and resources sector.

"Everyone is screaming for employment and businesses can no longer make the excuse to not hire someone with a disability," he said.

For Mr Gale, collecting trolleys is not ideal, but after the past four years, he said he was just happy to have a job again.


Source: ABC

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