Finding supportive employers who create employment opportunities for people with disability is one of the core missions of EPIC Assist (EPIC).
Traineeships and work experience are important pathways on the journey to paid employment.
When EPIC approached Greg Harding at Craignish Country Club a number of years ago, he agreed to provide a job vacancy due to a personal experience with disability, and a fantastic working relationship began.
Greg has owned the country club near Hervey Bay for 26 years. Over this time, it has seen many changes. The country club currently sports an 18-hole golf course, pokies, and hearty meals several days a week.
EPIC’s relationship with the country club has led to multiple employment opportunities for people with disability over the years.
“Disability doesn’t worry me. It’s more about the person, their personality, and whether they are teachable,” Greg said.
Currently, two EPIC participants, Tyler and Jack, work in groundskeeper roles, doing garden maintenance and keeping the property up to standard for guests.
EPIC approached both Tyler and Jack (at different times) with opportunities tailored to their needs.
“I was very excited because I didn’t know how I was going to get a job when I finished school because of my intellectual impairment,” Tyler said.
“I thought that I would be unable to get a job, but EPIC helped me get into my horticultural traineeship, and now employment.”
Tyler has been employed at the country club for over 3 years.
EPIC Post Placement Support Officer Bevan Yates explained that EPIC approached Jack with the opportunity to work at the country club as he has a degenerative disorder which means his eyesight is gradually disappearing. Owner Greg offered him the position in early 2020 to broaden his experiences while he still had some sight.
“Greg is an amazing supportive employer in that he gives the participants opportunities to work in an open environment around the golf course,” Bevan said.
“He equips them with appropriate tools and if needed, purchases extra tools such as a brush cutter, so both participants can use one at the same time. He is very approachable and interacts well with participants and support.”
The addition of Jack to the team was welcomed by Tyler, who have both learnt valuable skills like learning to drive all-terrain vehicles (ATV’s) and use equipment such as mowers and brush cutters in a safe environment, which they had no experience with before their roles at the country club.
Bevan is proud of the changes he has seen in the participants since starting their employment.
“Tyler has been able to put into practice skills learnt through his traineeship and become more confident in using his knowledge, skills and tools. He has also learnt how to be part of a team,” Bevan said.
Bevan said Jack’s self-confidence has grown significantly, and his anxiety has also decreased.
“I’ve really grown as a person. It’s made me more independent and EPIC helped me seek great opportunities,” Jack said.
EPIC provides ongoing support to Tyler and Jack in the workplace.
“My role as post-placement support is to ensure that the work environment is safe for participants to work in and to ensure that the participants work in a safe manner,” Bevan said.
“I suggest and implement safe working practices and assist the participants to have an understanding of what is expected and required of them.”
That ongoing support has become less frequent over time as Tyler and Jack become more independent in the workplace.
“Work is important to me because I want to be independent. I want to be able to show people that I can work hard for what I want in life,” Tyler said.
“And one day, I want to be able to prove that even though I had help, I no longer need help because I had people to show me skills.”
Tyler’s positive experience since connecting with EPIC has inspired him to think about his next career move.
“I feel that agencies like EPIC are really helpful, especially for people who have disabilities and are eligible to work. I got a lot of help and guidance from EPIC,” he said.
“I want to move to the city, I want to explore the world, and I want to be able to help people as that’s something I’ve always aspired to do since I was young.”
Jack says EPIC has brought many benefits to his life over the past few years.
“I feel like it’s a great opportunity, based on my experience. EPIC has helped me get this far. Without them, I don’t know where I’d be,” Jack said.
EPIC thanks Greg and Craignish Country Club for the many opportunities they have provided to assist people with disability in their employment journeys.
“Whether you’ve got a disability or not, to want to work is the main thing. You’ve got to be willing to work,” Greg said.
To find out how your organisation can open up employment opportunities for people with disability, contact us today.