Home » Maryborough Endeavour timber facility teaches people with disability skills to further their careers

Maryborough Endeavour timber facility teaches people with disability skills to further their careers

by Narges Mohammadi

Kirsten Drier is breaking barriers in more ways than one. Ten years ago, she was afraid her disability would be a barrier to getting a job.

“People just don’t understand disability and how good we can be at things,” she said.

“It can be frustrating because we just need to be given an opportunity to prove we can be a really good worker.”

Ms Drier, who has autism, helps train new employees at the Endeavour timber facility in Maryborough, three hours’ north of Brisbane.

She said a high school teacher opened her career pathway.

“[The teacher] said, ‘Are you any good at manual arts’,” Ms Drier said.

“And I thought, ‘OK yeah, I’ll give this a shot’.”

Working with wood

Endeavour’s timber yard produces more than 800,000 wooden stakes and product

s for mines and other industries each year.

Every one of its 43 employees has a disability and is supported by supervisors.

It is part of Endeavour’s push to give people with intellectual disability the skills they need to pursue future employment.

The charity runs 28 employment sites from Cairns to Melbourne in industries ranging from food packaging to timber products and e-waste recycling services.

“It’s about providing the opportunity for our employees to go as far as they want to go, in their own time,” Endeavour’s senior business manager, Scott Reed, said.

“[That’s] with the knowledge that if there is the opportunity for them to move into open employment into the future, that can and will happen.”

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, people with disability are twice as likely to be unemployed than those without disability and 88 per cent of employed people with disability do not require extra support from their employers.

National Disability Services Queensland manager Jason McKey said people with disability were often overlooked for roles that they would fill with ease.

“There is certainly some stigma surrounding employing people with disability Australia-wide,” Mr McKey said.

“A lot of it is basically ignorance on the part of people not realising the terrific potential that they’re missing out on by employing people with disability.”

At the Maryborough timber yard, workers gain qualifications in forklift driving, sawmilling, and other skills.

“We had forklift drivers here, they went elsewhere and got a job and they’re loving it and they’re happy,” Ms Drier said.

“Without this workplace, we’d just be sitting at home bored doing nothing.”

A ‘win-win’

Mr McKey said more education about hiring workers with disability would lead to far greater economic benefits.

“If you walk down the street today, you see so many vacancies, people wanted, and they’re overlooking the fact that people with disabilities can do the job,” he said.

“It’s a win-win for the person, the employer and the Australian economy.”

Ms Drier said she hoped to one day secure a job outside the timber yard, but she was content in her role.

“They keep me busy here and if I can improve other people’s skills and help them out, then that’s a really good day,” she said.

Source: ABC News

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