Meet the garage sale that’s changing waste practices and creating better consumer habits one damaged or faulty good at a time.
The World’s Biggest Garage Sale is Australia’s first circular economy precinct. They partner with brands like Officeworks to give damaged and faulty goods a new life and prevent items and materials from ending up in landfill.
But an organisation like this is not possible without the help of some hardworking people, like Lachlan and Stuart.
Lachlan celebrated one year at World’s Biggest Garage Sale in June this year. He assembles chairs and does some de-branding work (taking the labels off textiles so that they can be repurposed) in their textiles department.
He thinks he is more diligent and has better work skills since working here.
“It’s a really good experience for me, I enjoy my time here.”
Being diagnosed with autism and ADHD, Lachlan worked with EPIC Assist to find meaningful employment. “They helped me with a job plan and to find this job” Lachlan said.
EPIC Assist (EPIC) is a not-for-profit that specialises in helping people with a disability, injury, mental health condition, or health condition find and maintain meaningful employment.
EPIC has also helped Stuart, who was diagnosed with ASD and ADHD at a very young age.
Stuart came back to EPIC in 2015, after a negative experience with his previous employment support provider.
With EPIC’s help, Stuart managed to secure employment at World’s Biggest Garage Sale.
Stuart has a background in IT. But when he realised an office job was not for him, he brought his skills over to retail. Stuart said he needed to interact with people.
But after years out of retail, it took him time to get his mojo back. Stuart said his work at World’s Biggest Garage Sale has helped him become more confident and improved his skills.
“Ideally in the next six to 12 months, I’d love to be out on the shop floor. I love interacting with customers helping to give them prices. That’s what I live and breathe” Stuart said.
Stuart explained that his work at the World’s Biggest Garage Sale started as just a job, but his perspective and passion soon changed. Reaching the 12 months employment milestone was a turning point for Stuart.
Now, Stuart has a whole new outlook and an even bigger goal.
“It’s probably going to take me the rest of my life, but it’s something I very much believe in. I want to change the general public’s perception on people with autism and then eventually with disabilities.”
Growing up linked to Autism Queensland, Stuart has received many comments over the years that he does not look like someone with autism.
“I want people to find a way to think differently, to not always think of the stereotype. That’s my next big goal I want to start working on” Stuart says.
Employers, Amy and Samantha, have nothing but praise for Lachlan and Stuart.
“Lachlan and Stuart are both really helpful. They love to get stuck into anything you give them. They’re also super sweet; always nice and kind to everyone they work with,” Amy said.
Amy, the Accounts and HR Administrator at World’s Biggest Garage Sale, has assisted with individual support plans for both Lachlan and Stuart.
“Every participant is different, so we look at what their strengths and goals are, and work to help them achieve that.”
She pointed out that Lachlan loves data-driven tasks, and Stuart loves to interact with people. Because of this, they assign both men tasks according to their interests and goals.
Amy said it is all about building up Lachlan and Stuart’s skills, so if they no longer want to work there they are more prepared for future employment. It was one of the reasons she stressed why it was important for people with disability to find employment.
“For self-confidence, purpose, it’s really important to have something to do. It’s really good to have something to look forward to and feel like you’re contributing.”
Samantha oversees the textiles department and says they try to give participants a variety of work. Lachlan has started venturing out of textiles to work in presales, as well as flat pack assembly and assisting on the shop floor.
“We’ve got to the point where we can now send him out into other parts of the warehouse and other people can give him jobs to do, which is really good,” Samantha says.
It’s clear from Stuart and Lachlan’s enthusiasm how much they enjoy their work. They are a pleasure to work with and the skills and life experiences they bring to the organisation are irreplaceable.
“Their contribution is really valuable. It’s not just another person filling a position” Amy says.
If you are looking for a job you love and have a disability, injury, mental health condition or health condition, contact our friendly team at EPIC Assist today.