Greg’s triumph battling social anxiety and returning to work pre-surgery

After a debilitating neck injury in 2018, Greg was left bedridden.

“I was lifting one day and the next day I woke up and couldn’t move,” Greg, Disability Employment Services participant says.

“My C6-7 disc in my neck popped out and was pushing on a nerve that runs down my arm and into my finger.

“I had to lie down for a good two years. I couldn’t drive. I couldn’t work. I was in agony.”

Battling and overcoming social anxiety

Like so many with physical disability, isolation resulted in Greg developing a mental health condition.

“I’ve suffered with social anxiety in the past few years,” he says.  

After mandated COVID isolation worsened his anxiety, Greg’s psychologist recommended he take small steps outside his comfort zone.

Attending his first appointment at CVGT Employment was one. “I didn’t feel comfortable at first. But I just had to do it, otherwise I would still be stuck in my bedroom. I had to push myself.”

After a successful first meeting, “it became easier and easier over time”.

“I would just come and see my employment consultant Josh and have chat – it was actually really good.”

CVGT Employment helps Greg connect to the right employer

Despite being in pain, Greg was determined to improve his life and pursue a fulfilling career – he just needed help finding the right employer, says Dimitti Rae, CVGT Employment Business Development Consultant.

“Greg was on the wait list to have surgery, meaning he would need six weeks off work to recover. We knew we needed to find an employer that was inclusive, understanding and willing to see past the time off,” Dimitti says.

Adds Greg: “I was looking, but it was hard. I still couldn’t lift, and I had no strength in my arm. There was one job I really wanted and, despite liking me, they knocked me back because I was having surgery.

Josh at CVGT Employment really helped me stay on track. He would give me positive feedback, encouragement – ‘keep going you will get there’.
Disability Employment Services participant

Greg gets the call he had been waiting for

Within a few weeks, the CVGT Employment Wodonga team had good news for Greg. The Boat Shed, Lake Hume (Traverse Alpine Group (TAG)) had invited him to a group interview.  He got the job. More good news was to come. Six months after joining the resort team, he underwent neck surgery, just a week after his 40th birthday.

“I woke up in the hospital bed and the pain was gone straight away,” Greg says. Six weeks post-surgery, he was back at work.

TAG Group Food & Beverage Manager Cassandra says it was important Greg had the time and support to recover.

“Greg is a great guy and a pleasure to work with, therefore it was not a problem to give him the time he needed to recover and receive the surgery,” Cassandra says.

For us it was more important to keep him, as he makes our team whole and complete, he is a great addition.
We support diversity, and for us it is very important to support where we can. It’s a privilege to work and support team members with disability.
TAG Group Food & Beverage Manager

“Since Greg had his surgery, he is better than ever. There are no limits to what he can do, and there is an air of freedom hanging above him as he knows that there are no restrictions on his physical abilities now.”

Greg’s success and advice for people with disability

“At first, I was hesitant to share my story but even if it helps one person that’s enough for me. Take it day by day. Don’t overdo it but do as much as you can,” Greg says.

Dimitti says the outcome highlights the importance of collaboration between the CVGT Employment team, employers in the region, “in particular, Cassandra and the Boat Shed, Lake Hume team”, and Greg wanting to make a change in his life. 

“We are proud that Greg persevered, and that Josh understood what he was going through. I hope Greg’s story empowers others to do similar. We congratulate him on his achievements.”

Connect to CVGT Employment Disability Employment Service

If injury, illness, or disability is making it tough for you to find the right job, CVGT Employment can help. Enquire about Disability Employment Services online or call 132 848 today to learn more about how we can support you to find inclusive and sustainable work.  

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