REAL LIFE STORIES
Natalie completed her Transition to Work (TTW) program at our services, Northside Enterprise Inc., in late 2008. Barriers associated with Natalie’s disability meant that she was not suited to Open Employment through a Disability Employment Service or within the disability employment model funded by the Commonwealth Government but she wanted to choose employment in the open employment market, outside of a segregated setting such as supported employment Australian Disability Enterprises. Northside Enterprise Inc. realised the importance of employment choices people living with disabilities should have access to and set about creating innovative employment opportunities. Natalie gained a position at our Bushlink Supported Open Employment project that secured employment under a Modern Award with Supported wage system built into productivity assessments. As an employee working with our Bushlink team Natalie has enjoyed long-term inclusive employment for several continuous years. Natalie continues to require daily support to complete her work and may continue to need support at this level. However, the social inclusion, community engagement and linkages she has experienced have greatly increased her confidence and skills to participate in community life. Natalie is particularly proud of the wages she earns, which contribute to the betterment of and enhance her personal lifestyle.
After Secondary School Luke completed the Northside Enterprise Inc. Transition to Work (TTW) program in 2008. Luke’s good skills and enthusiasm to learn meant that he was a suitable candidate for Open Employment after completing the TTW program. Northside Enterprise Inc., through individualised and small-group training, both in theory through Certificate I in Work Skills as well as through planned work experience and on-the-job-training, helped Luke secure part-time employment after finishing successfully our TTW program. Furthermore, Luke chose to also work part-time with our Bushlink Supported Open Employment project to build on his skills and confidence in a fully supported and socially inclusive environment. Luke still works part-time at Bushlink, requires minimal support, takes on additional duties and helps to support other workers with disability. With our support, he has developed lead-worker skills within the team of people with disabilities. He also continues working independently as a Nursery Hand at a local nursery (the job Northside Enterprise Inc. helped secure in 2008), with no support required. Luke has developed into a confident and skilful young man at work and in his pursuits in the social, economic and community life.
Adrian completed the Northside Enterprise Inc Transition to Work (TTW) program in late 2012. Barriers associated with Adrian’s disability meant that he was not suited to Open Employment but he wanted to choose employment outside of a segregated setting such as an ADE (Australian Disability Enterprise), and work within open community settings. While he commenced employment after his TTW training in an ADE, he was able to maintain his bush regeneration and gardening skills by attending Northside Enterprise Inc Bushlink open employment program as a Volunteer for several months. A part-time bush regeneration assistant job opening in Bushlink appeared during early 2013 and Adrian was successful in his competing for the job. This meant that Adrian had secured himself 2 part-time jobs from around late February 2013: a job at a local ADE and a job at Bushlink. During 2015/2016 Adrian finally realised his original employment dream: to have a job in an open environment. He was successful in increasing his work hours with Bushlink and decided to resign from his ADE job. At mid-2016 Adrian still requires daily support to complete his work and may continue to need support at this level. However, the social inclusion, active team dynamics and belonging, community engagement and linkages he has experienced have greatly increased his confidence and skills to participate in community life.
Naomi is a Northside Enterprise Inc. “veteran”. Her mother, Margaret talks about packing her bag every day: “Sports shoes on Monday, leggings for yoga on Thursday, money for coffee on Wednesday”. When Naomi was 16, Margaret was faced with a decision about her post-school program. “We always thought she would end up in sheltered workshop” Margaret says. “It’s a big decision, like what school you send your child to. But sixteen years down the track we’re very happy with Northside”. Naomi enjoys a broad variety of activities at Northside, from the sports group, to work experience at the zoo and even more recently, joining a yoga class. She thrives on the company of others and has made many long-term friends over the years. She loves singing and dancing and regularly attends Northside’s social nights and performs in the end of year musicals. Last year she played one of the Pink Ladies in ‘Grease’. Naomi takes part in everything Northside has to offer, including the Leisure Link Program which she received funding for last year and could do recreational activities of choice; her favourite was going on a ferry into the city. Margaret says that Naomi has never hesitated to go to Northside in the morning, unlike some other places she’s been. “It’s amazing what she can fit into a day! For what Naomi gets out of it, it’s very positive for us. We’re glad that she’s able to do all the things that make her happy”.
Hannah is rarely not smiling. Bubbly and energetic, she talks about her experience at Northside. Hannah completed the Northside Enterprise Inc Transition To Work (TTW) program in late 2007, which offered her ample work experience and on-the-job training in work she wanted to do. While at TTW Hannah loved to learn computer data entry and office administration jobs and tasks. In order to help Hannah realise her dream job, Northside provided computer related skills development training and found suitable data entry work experiences in the Northern Beaches area where she lives, at which she became very proficient. Hannah, with her Northside staff support, eagerly took up a job opening opportunity in an large office in the Sydney city centre (a human resources and agency staff company) – she spent some weeks learning the job in the company’s Head Office in the city and Northside staff supported Hannah in her learning to use public transport to get to and from the city. It didn’t take long for Hannah to demonstrate her capabilities in keeping up with the job demands and launched herself into the job which she still – in mid-2016 – loves and in which she is going strong. Hannah’s job in the Sydney office of this Human Resources and HR consulting company presents her with a variety of challenging and enriching roles such as the education and office team.
Hannah made a bunch of friends at Northside, many she still sees at the activities provided through Northside’s social and community “hub”, which includes afternoon, evening or night out-of-hours activates such as drama program, dinner club and social nights, art, Yoga etc.
Learning to catch the bus, she says, was the most important thing for her when she was at Northside. It paved the way for her independence in work and life. When asked if she would recommend Northside to anyone, her response is quick and enthusiastic: “They should definitely do it!”