Surf club makes an impact creating an inclusive environment

Thursday, 16 December 2021

Everybody has a right to have a job they love. Elliot is no different. He was looking for a role he could enjoy and use his established skills with an employer that understood his disability.

Elliot has Down syndrome and was looking for some extra support from someone who was able to advocate his talent, passion, and skills. He was struggling to get his foot in the door due to employers who believed stigma misconceptions about people with disability.

When a friend of Elliot’s mother told her about the success her own daughter had in finding a job with the Disability Employment Service provider EPIC Assist (EPIC), Elliot decided to take a leap and connect.

EPIC helped Elliot create his resume, cover letter and practice interview questions. Most notably, they found him roles with inclusive employers and educated them about Elliot’s disability and how that would affect his capabilities in the role.

a path leading to a beach with crystal clear water. Palm tress surround the beach. A surf lifesaving beach buggy can e seen in the distance
View from the Surf Club

At the beginning of June 2021, Elliot was excited to find out he had landed a job with Palm Cove Surf Club.  With picturesque views of the beautiful Coral Sea, the club is located just outside of Cairns and uses its profits to help fund Surf Life Saving Queensland.

Elliot’s Manager, Raelene, was aware of the stigma attached to people with disability but knew firsthand the benefit they bring to a workplace as she had already worked with EPIC at a previous establishment.

Raelene is proud of the hard work the Surf Club has made to uphold Surf Life Saving Queensland’s value of creating a diverse and inclusive environment.

Alongside Elliot, the club also employs another EPIC participant, Tyson, who has dyslexia. Tyson works as a back-of-house kitchen hand, preparing food. Both Elliot’s and Tyson’s willingness to learn and eagerness to develop their skills caught Raelene’s attention and has made them strong members of her team.

By creating an inclusive environment having two people on their staff with a disability, the club has broken down damaging stereotypes surrounding disability and opened the eyes of other employees and customers to the myths and misconceptions circulating.

“I believe at times there can be a stigma, but they bring so much to the work environment, and we learn from them just as much as they learn from us,” said Raelene.

“Everyone is accepted for who they are here, and I feel the customers like to see that we are inclusive of everyone.”

Two men stand smiling in an industrial kitchen. they are both wearing aprons
Tyson and Chef Shannon

In Elliot’s role as a front-of-house kitchen hand, he has a range of duties he must complete before the club opens. His tasks include filling the ice buckets, placing numbers on tables, cleaning the service area, and operating the commercial dishwasher. Once the club opens, he helps serve the food.

Elliot’s favourite part of his job is cleaning the tables, talking to customers, learning new tasks, and making new friends.

Working alongside Elliot is his support worker, Shirley. Elliot is incredibly thankful for the help Shirley provides for him.

“I need to say a big thank you to my support worker, Shirley, who has worked alongside me from my first day at the job, helping me by keeping me in the right direction,” said Elliot.

An older woman and young man stand together in an industril kitchen. The young man is in an apron scarping a dish into a bin.
Elliot and his Support Worker Shirley

Elliot has made huge improvements since starting at the club. Raelene has noted that he has now learnt and remembers all his duties that he must complete before the club opens. Elliot has also seen improvements in his life outside of work. He has amazed his mum by how well he cleans at home and even taught her some cleaning tips that she didn’t know.

These skills will come in handy as Elliot and his family are moving into a new house where Elliot will have his very own granny flat. He is confident he will be able to keep his house clean and is excited to make up some ‘cooking creations’ and continue to learn at his job.

If you are looking for a job you love like Elliot and Tyson, contact EPIC today. We can help you connect with inclusive employers.

Related articles