The ‘Can Van’ is aiming to provide a key service during its stopover in the Illawarra.
CoAct, a provider of employment services for job seekers with disability, along with disability employment agency Workways is visiting the Illawarra this week as part of the ‘Can Van’ roadshow.
The roadshow aims to support people with disability looking for help to find or keep a job, as well as employers looking to make their workplaces more diverse and inclusive.
The ‘Can Van’ was on hand to provide help such as free career advice, personalised job search support, drop in training, coaching and mentoring, and interview practice support.
One of Workways’ clients is Illawarra resident Jade*.
Jade said she had battled anxiety and depression “my whole life”.
After dropping out of school in year 11, she “was very lost for about two years… I had no idea what I wanted to do, or what I even could do”.
“I had no idea what options there were for me, so I was basically just living at home doing nothing, just feeling sorry for myself,” she said.
Workways connected her with bushcare volunteering with Wollongong City Council, which led to recently landing a part-time job/traineeship as a conservation and land management team member with Midges Bushland Restoration.
Jade will also soon undertake a Certificate III in Conservation and Land Management at TAFE.
“Some employers won’t give people a chance because they think just because you’re struggling with something, you can’t overcome it or you can’t work with it,” she said.
“I think that they would prefer to hire someone where, ‘it’s fine, they have no problems that we know of, so it’s going to be easier for us if we just take them on’, as opposed to the person who has had to overcome these obstacles.
“But I would say you’d be better off looking at the person who’s had to overcome obstacles, because they’ve obviously shown that they have commitment, strength and some kind of drive to actually work harder and get to their goals.”
Gay Ingram, performance and partnership leader at Workways said some employers think that hiring someone with a disability may increase their costs and outgoings and that they may have more time off, but quite the opposite is true.
“When someone with a disability gains employment they hold on to that job like gold because they had to fight a battle to get there,” she said.
“If anything they make the most engaged and committed staff with the right job.”
The ‘Can Van’ will visit the Friday Forage market in Crown Street Mall this Friday from 9am to 4pm.
*Surname withheld by request