EPIC and Kahwun-Wooga create employment opportunities for Maryborough community

Thursday, 3 December 2020

Nothing is more important to Peter Skuthorpe than community.

The Community Justice Group Coordinator for Kahwun-Wooga Aboriginal Corporation in Maryborough explains:

“Community to me means family, family means love, and love is the healer of all.”

Kahwun-Wooga is an Aboriginal and Torres-Strait Islander organisation that looks to support the Aboriginal and Torres-Strait Islander community in the Maryborough region, whether it’s through the courts, education, health, or in the social justice field.

Speaking with Peter, you can see that he is very proud of his role and what the organisation stands for.

“Being in a position to work for an organisation that has been a pillar of the local community for over 25 years, and being a representative of that, is really awesome,” Peter said.

“We get the opportunity to support and engage with our community on a number of levels, such as offering employment or supporting someone in their day-to-day activities.”

That’s why when Rod and Rachel from EPIC Assist’s Maryborough team approached Peter about taking on a school-based trainee, Sharnece, he thought it was worth exploring.

Sharnece was undertaking a traineeship in Business Administration through her school and looking for work experience. Whilst searching for a suitable workplace, Sharnece worked on reception at EPIC’s Maryborough office where she gained valuable experience.

“Sharnece was very quiet and timid when she started with us,” Rod said.

The EPIC team spent time training Sharnece on her phone manner, building her skills and bringing her out of her shell to be able to answer the phone with confidence. The confidence she felt inside started to show in the personal pride reflected in her appearance.

“EPIC has helped me by making me feel comfortable wherever I go,” Sharnece said.

Meanwhile, EPIC Employment Advisor Rod worked with Kahwun-Wooga to ensure the role available was suitable for both Sharnece and Kahwun-Wooga’s needs. Rod also attended a board meeting for Kahwun-Wooga where he explained the benefits of employing people with disability to their board members.

After initial discussions, Kahwun-Wooga was happy to provide Sharnece with the role of receptionist, where she greets visitors, answers the phone, and helps out with other required tasks.

“With all new employees, there is the ‘finding your feet’ stage and it’s been wonderful to watch Sharnece develop over the past 12 months, and we look forward to continuing our work with her in the future,” Peter said.

Sharnece has grown with the support of her team.

“The team at Kahwun-Wooga are very supportive of things that I can and can’t do. They don’t put me in uncomfortable situations,” Sharnece explained.

“I’ve improved a lot with my confidence because I am a very quiet person and keep to myself. The job has helped me meet new people.”

The EPIC team at Maryborough are very proud of Sharnece’s accomplishments.

“I’ve seen Sharnece grow from a schoolgirl into a young woman working in a great role in the community,” Rod said.

Peter explains that for him, inclusion and diversity mean opportunity.

“We all deserve that opportunity, and Kahwun-Wooga is very happy to provide that opportunity to Sharnece to showcase her abilities.”

“When people have that gainful employment, it has a roll-on effect on the person’s family, so this is something that we are thankful and honoured to play a role in,” Peter said.

Sharnece says she enjoys working and has career aspirations to help others.

“I would like to work in mental health so I can talk to people with the same type of disability as me and tell them that there’s sunshine on the other side,” she said.

The valuable partnership EPIC has formed with Kahwun-Wooga in Maryborough means there will be more employment opportunities for local job seekers in the future.

“We’re thankful that we’ve been able to form this relationship with EPIC so we can create more opportunities for our community and people like Sharnece,” Peter said.

“Kahwun-Wooga and EPIC have a really strong relationship and we look forward to continuing our relationship and working alongside one another in the future.”

To find out how your organisation can open up employment opportunities for people with disability, contact us today.

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