Nicky loves music, travelling around Australia and the world with his family to catch the latest theatre productions.  

To further indulge his passion, 25-year-old Nicky wants to earn his own money and buy a new Bluetooth speaker.  

To help get there, Nicky is joining a new disability education to employment program launching soon in Bendigo.  

Inclusion Foundation’s innovative Impact21 program – delivered in partnership with CVGT Employment – is designed to help young people with Down syndrome or intellectual disability to find real, paid employment.  

The course involves a classroom component, workplace activities and an internship at the end of the program.  

The goal is to equip each young person with the skills required to acquire a role in the open workforce.   

“For the families involved, it’s about building that independence for their child or family member,” Inclusion Foundation, Impact21 Lead Regional Coordinator Donna Petrusma said.  

“The motivation for participants is finding employment. It’s about finding friends, learning how to work in a professional environment in an appropriate way, and building that social connection and responsibility.” 

Nicky with Impact Foundation’s Donna Petrusma and CVGT Employment’s Bendigo branch manager Bryden McFarlane.

The program has enjoyed significant success in Melbourne over the past two years, matching dozens of young people with employers and boosting inclusion and independence.  

Bendigo’s 18-month pilot of the program, funded by Jobs Victoria, is bringing together up to 10 local participants and national and community employers and will launch in August.  

“We’ve loved being part of this initiative, expanding the horizons for what’s possible when it comes to work for people with Down syndrome or an intellectual disability,” CVGT Employment chief executive Jason Russell said.  

“We’re confident Impact21 will have the same impact in Bendigo as it’s already having in Melbourne, where successful participants are working with employers such as JB Hi-fi, Tennis Australia and the Australian Centre for the Moving Image.”  

Skill development a focus

Impact21 targets three areas of professional workplace development – administration, customer service and hospitality.  

“We delve into those areas so participants can clearly have a look at what interests them and where they want to move in their career path,” Ms Petrusma said, “rather than offering a role they don’t want or are not suited to.”  

Nicky is excited about being involved and his aims for the program are clear.  

“I’m looking forward to making friends, earning money and learning skills.”  

An information session for potential participants, families and disability service providers will be held at the Bendigo Library, 259 Hargreaves Street, on Wednesday 3 August from 2pm to 3pm and 6.30pm to 7.30pm.   

For more details, or to register your interest, contact Donna Petrusma by email at [email protected] or on 03 9854 7100. 

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