Disability inclusion is about creating an inclusive workplace where people with disability feel welcome, comfortable, supported and seen. Environment plays a huge role in a person with disabilities success at work.
Andrew has autism and an intellectual disability diagnosis. Recently, with the support of CVGT Employments Specialist Disability Employment Team (SDET) he started working at Marcellin College in Bulleen, Victoria.
“I am happy. I love it here,” Andrew says of his Gardening Assistant job.
But it’s not just the day-to-day duties that make this the perfect job, Marcellin College’s inclusive culture and CVGT Employment’s support has led to Andrew feeling a sense of empowerment and identity.
Finding the right employer
Andrew connected with SDET as part of Holmesglen’s, Certificate II Work Education partnership in 2022.
He completed several weeks’ work experience doing greenkeeping at the local golf course.
“Andrew really enjoyed this experience, “said Candice Latter, Employer Inclusion Coordinator at CVGT Employment.
“So earlier this year, I worked with Marcellin College in Bulleen to create a customised Gardening Assistant role just for Andrew.”
“I knew Marcellin College would be the right employer, the staff there are so lovely and supportive.”
Andrew’s been working at Marcellin for a few months with the Facilities and Maintenance team, part of which are supported by Danihers Facility Management.
Andrew’s confidence has grown enormously,
SDET Employment Consultant
“Every time I visit him at work, I can see the positive impact the support that has been provided by his colleagues is having on his capacity and independence.
I can’t speak highly enough of the way Marcellin and Danihers have embraced Andrew into their team. They’re an outstanding employer.
The benefits of hiring someone with disability
Andrew’s not the only one who’s benefited, the staff at Marcellin and Danihers are thrilled to have him.
We had a staff member describe Andrew as a ray of sunshine, which I thought was a perfect description. He is a wonderful asset to the team,
Assistant Principle at Marcellin College
“I agree,” says James from Danihers. “He brings great energy everywhere he goes. It’s been great, an absolute pleasure to work with him.”
Inclusive workplaces provide access to and encourages people to ask for support
Marcellin College recently built a sensory room for students with special needs and have given Andrew full access to use the space.
Any time he is feeling overwhelmed or stressed, he is able to use the room to regulate his feelings,
CVGT Employment Consultant
Marcellin have gone one step further, offering Andrew access to the student counsellors if he ever needs to talk through any issues or concerns.
CVGT Employment continue to support Andrew, employer Marcellin College and contractor Danihers.
We recently sent our SDET Administration Officer Jamie out to visit Andrew, Melissa, John and James. Here’s what they had to say about working together.
Q&A with Jamie and participant Andrew
What’s it like working here?
It’s nice, quiet, and clean here. The staff are really nice to me.
What jobs / tasks do you do here?
I do the mulch, cleaning up rubbish, watering the gardens with the hose to make sure the gardens do not dry up. I do a lot of weeding and planting the flowers. If there’s an event happening, I set up chairs and pack them away.
What is it that you like about this job the most?
It’s quiet here and I like that everyone is friendly, and I have a supportive manager. Sometimes we play jokes on each other which is good.
How has CVGT Employment helped you on your journey to employment?
They’re really nice to me. They looked everywhere to find me a job until they found me the right one. It’s not as easy for me to get a job as it is for other people. But CVGT Employment helped me be patient and we finally found ‘my’ job.
Q&A with Jamie and Assistant Principal Melissa, Gardener John and Facilities Manager James.
Have you worked with a person with a disability before Andrew?
Melissa– As a teacher, I work with young people that have different learning abilities, but this is my first time with an employee. It’s been a pleasure getting to know Andrew and work with him, we are blessed to have him in our team.
John- I’ve volunteered to help people with disability, but this is my first time working with someone with disability (15 hours per week) so it’s a new experience, and I am learning a lot.
James- Not as close as I have with Andrew, so my experience is limited but it has been good.
Did you adapt your onboarding process to help Andrew?
Melissa- Yes, there was probably a few different elements for us. Having Jordan from CVGT Employment was so helpful. There are so many compliance modules that everyone must go through and paperwork to remember. He supported Andrew with all of it.
So it wasn’t overwhelming, we were very clear about the process, working out what was really needed and removing information packs that might not be relevant to Andrew’s role.
Also being clear as a team what we wanted the role to be. The role did not exist before Andrew, so we needed to work out what he wanted and was hoping for.
John– I found that I need to be clearer with instructions and not step too far ahead, which I can tend to do, so this has been a learning experience for me.
What are the different ways that Andrew learns compared to your other staff?
Melissa- Not making assumptions about prior knowledge which in a workplace can happen, so being mindful of this.
James- I’ve been more specific about what we were trying to do ‘right now’ and not go too far ahead. It’s just a bit more direct instructions and explaining why we’re doing things, as opposed to rushing things.
In our job we have changes in our routine, so we need to be able to explain the changes and why the changes have happened to Andrew.
John– James hit the nail on the head with not going too far ahead, sometimes I can go through all these instructions and duties and then I think “no, let’s just do one thing at a time.
What is it like to work with Andrew?
Melissa- Andrew is not only so friendly and so kind, but he is also a hard worker and wants to do his best. This has been a really great influence for everyone here, not just in our team but in the whole college community.
John- He is very friendly, engaging, and inquisitive, sometimes I don’t know the answers for him (laughs).
Andrew has his way of addressing people which is great, he will tell them who he is and what he is doing, which creates a base for discussion. It’s lovely that he does this.
He will always ask about me and other people which I find to be a really great quality.
He will always do the work I ask him to. It is lovely working with Andrew.
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