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ON HIS WAY From brain tumour survivor to job seeker: this is Mat.


MS battler Bobby dreams of standing on top of Everest.

TIME FOR TEA Inside the newest Seasons CafĂŠ, plus the perfect scone recipe.


STILL BUZZING With the trailer alone attracting 10 million views online, the short film Jeremy the Dud has been a success on many fronts.

CLIMBING TO THE TOP OF THE WORLD Bobby Bajram made a promise to himself, a promise that would set him on a path to the world’s tallest mountain, Mount Everest.

MAT MACKENZIE, FOCUS ON THE FUTURE Overcoming major health barriers is something Mat MacKenzie is familiar with. Every day, he makes the choice to go forward in the life he wants to live.




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Karingal St Laurence Limited ABN 74 614 366 031 ACN 614 366 031

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We are embarking on an exciting time here at genU Karingal St Laurence. Many people in our community know our organisation for the work we do in supporting clients with a disability through what we now call our genU Ability division. We want everyone in our community to look for the ability in people, not the disability. We also provide services to older Australians and those experiencing social disadvantage.

We’re proud of the results MatchWorks teams have achieved for people experiencing disadvantage in local communities, and for the work all the staff do in supporting people with a disability to find a job and help change their lives. Our consultants have placed over 150,000 people into work and, just as importantly, we have worked alongside 80,000 employers who have created safe, welcoming and diverse workplaces. In the last year alone we have placed 31,000 people into work, which is an average of 600 people every week!

However, I wanted to mention here in my introduction, the work of our MatchWorks Employment Services division.

At the core of this expansion is genU’s mission to create and deliver innovative services and supports that empower people to reach their full potential.

As of July 1 2018, MatchWorks will expand its Disability Employment Services (DES) for job seekers with a disability to 80 new locations across Australia. This is a fantastic achievement when you think about how our employment services have evolved over the past 20 years.

One of the messages I’ve been reinforcing recently is while we are a not-for-profit organisation, however, more accurately, we are a ‘profit for purpose’ organisation.

MatchWorks will operate from a total of 150 sites and have more than 850 staff.

Every part of our organisation benefits from the great work of our Employment Services division, and the amount of positive change genU has created for people with a disability is remarkable.

In 1998, MatchWorks began with eight staff in Geelong and Bacchus Marsh, with other small outreach offices in Werribee and Melton. Karingal had been providing disability employment assistance through SupportWorks since 1992, but the establishment of MatchWorks provided a platform to deliver under the new funding arrangements, following the privatisation of the Commonwealth Employment Service (CES). Through best practice and strategic growth, MatchWorks has expanded its services to every state except the Northern Territory and Tasmania. Employment Services Group (ESG) and St Laurence MyWORK have been excellent additions to MatchWorks’ services, and, as a result, we have a new crew of energised staff kicking goals right across the country.


Making a profit is important and enables us to invest in our vision of building inclusive communities.

I’d like to thank everyone who has made MatchWorks a success – our job seekers, employers, business partners, board and executive, our staff and supporters. It will be exciting to see what this expansion will bring for the people who matter most – our clients and their families. I hope you enjoy all of the stories here in our REALISE magazine - happy reading! Mike McKinstry genU Karingal St Laurence CEO


NOW Under the new DES contract MatchWorks will connect people to jobs from an additional

MatchWorks started with



in 1998


and employ more than



in over




Worked with over

Placed over


150,000 PEOPLE into work


MatchWorks worked with more than


across the country.

31,000 PEOPLE

into work, that’s an average of


every week!

I N D I ’ S S TO R Y

Photography by Melanie Burlak

“It’s the small things like watching a child get the biggest grin as you bring out their food.”

in Year 8, and, as a result, she experienced severe anxiety.

Outgoing, happy, motivated, goal-orientated and dedicated is how Indi describes herself, demonstrating her own resilience to be positive, even when it feels like things are not going the way you had planned.

In the three years that followed leaving school, Indi worked in various jobs from the age of fourteen. But after a seven-month stint of unemployment, fruitlessly applying for jobs and approaching employment agencies, Indi was left feeling like nobody was able to help her.

Life at home had not been easy for Indi. At age thirteen, she was kicked out of home and has had to independently navigate a path for herself through life ever since. The pressures of home and other education barriers led Indi to leave school


“When the genU course came around I jumped at the chance to participate. I was wanting to do anything that could increase my chance of employment.”

The completion of a Tasting Plate Course with genU Training in Bendigo was the beginning of a love for the hospitality industry. The course included a Responsible Serving of Alcohol (RSA), Basic Coffee Making, Customer Service and Food Handling.

“My trainer made learning for myself and the whole class fun, stress-free and easy to remember.” This is just the beginning for Indi. Not only has her training led to full-time employment, she has now gained the courage and confidence to complete Year 12. “After thinking about my future and long-term goals, I decided to be brave and go back to school. “The hospitality course has opened up so many doors and opportunities for me and my trainer has helped me with opportunities for full-time work, for the rest of my life. Definitely worth getting involved in; it could absolutely change your life.”

This was what Indi had been looking for; real practical experience in an industry she enjoyed. “Other than the obvious, taking the genU Food Handling course, actually being in the workplace and speaking with the chef and other employees, the most knowledge is always learned from being hands on,” Indi said of her time training. Indi said the course left her with a sense of both confidence and preparedness, which has served her well in the workplace. “I am passionate about hospitality because I get to help people celebrate things that are important to them. You get to help make moments special, like birthdays and engagements, things that mean the absolute world to people. A positive experience at genU Training is down to the support received by her trainer, Glenn. “My whole life through high school, I had teachers that threw work at me and expected me to instantly know what I was doing. Glenn took the time to go through everything thoroughly and made sure that the whole class understood before moving on. By far the best trainer I have ever had,” Indi said. Indi feels confident in her ability and skills learnt through the course. Having completed the course, Indi said she felt 100 per cent prepared for work, confident in her ability and newly gained skills. For more information about genU Training, please visit www.genutraining.org.au



AGED CARE AND LIFESTYLE SERVICES Keeping as active as you can, staying as independent as possible and remaining connected to your community. At genU we know this is important to you. We’re all about building quality supports so you can retain your independence and live life your way. So go on, give us a call today.

Phone Us

1300 558 368

WEBSITE genu.org.au

A bit of a backyard blitz never goes astray, and this was the case when almost one hundred Deakin volunteers helped transform the gardens and grounds of Lara’s St Laurence Park retirement village. Deakin’s facilities team organised all the materials for the makeover (including roofing, rocks and fertiliser) as an inkind donation and the final result was sensational. The village now features a rock wall showcasing the entrance, raised garden beds and extensive landscaping. Even the outdoor furniture, built from scratch on-site, was made by Deakin. An outdoor amphitheatre was the pièce de résistance, which can now be used for outdoor concerts and social events. Mike McKinstry, genU CEO, said Deakin’s team made an outstanding contribution to St Laurence Park. “We do a lot of community events but the scale of this is just tremendous. Almost one hundred volunteers from Deakin gave up their time to put a smile on the residents’ faces,” he said. “To create an amphitheatre from scratch, all on the one day, is testament to the power of community and a shared goal of creating something which residents can enjoy in years to come.” Thank you to the following organisations for their contribution to the makeover day: Deakin, BSA Building Surveyors, Bunnings Trade Corio, Dulux Trade Centre, Faulkner Roofing, Kerr’s Hire, Morton Dunn Architects, Newcomb Sand and Soil, Reid Engineering, Seasol, TGM Group, Trak Constructions, James Hardie, Permathene, Reid Engineering and Wattyl Paints Geelong.


Photography by Fiona O’Connell

“One thing I’m going to do at some stage in my life is I’m going to walk to the top of the world and see the blue sky.” Bobby Bajram made that promise to himself as a 13-year-old, after doctors had told him he had Multiple Sclerosis (MS). The promise would set him on a path to the world’s tallest mountain, Mount Everest. In 1980, Bobby was the youngest person to be diagnosed with MS in Australian medical history, and regular trips to hospital, constant pain and significant weight gain would punctuate the years that followed. “Regardless of a good day or bad day, I’m in 24hour pain,” Bobby said. “If you’ve ever sprained an ankle, broken a leg or a wrist – that’s the sort of pain I’m in from the top of my head to the tips of my toes.

experienced periods of blindness due to his MS. In 2010, Bobby said he was fed up with sitting at home and made a life-changing decision to visit his local gym. “I was a big fat guy eating comfort food like pizzas, and while I was never depressed – I was frustrated, I felt shit and I’d take it out on food,” he said. “I was 42, and one day I walked in using walking sticks to Fitness First and asked for the boss, which was Ian Dowson. “He came over and asked, ‘What can I do for you?’ and I said ‘I want to climb Mount Everest’. He looks at me and he goes, ‘Okay, why do you want to climb Everest?’

“On a bad day, I’m either wheelchair bound, can’t get out of bed or I’m using walking sticks.”

“I told him my story, then he calls over his personal training manager, Chris Pearce, and said, ‘Chris you’re going to train Bobby – he’s going to climb Mount Everest, see ya!’ It was quite funny,

At his worst, Bobby weighed 142 kilograms and

but that’s how it all started.”


Bobby has since dedicated himself to daily training, completely changed his diet, and, with Chris’s guidance, transformed his body. He has lost almost 60 kilograms over the past eight years and continues a strict regime of diet and exercise when his body allows him.


Bobby has a single-minded focus of reaching the peak of Mount Everest. While this may seem like a pipe dream for a 50-year-old man with MS, the reality is Bobby has attracted more than 100 sponsors to reach his goal, and has already scaled two of the world’s tallest peaks. Bobby first significant climb was Nepal’s Kala Patthar, which has an elevation of 5,643 metres. He enlisted the help of medical experts and a team of world-class climbers to reach the summit, and the successful climb left him wanting more. In 2015, an attempt to scale Mera Peak (6,476 metres) almost ended in disaster, when an MS attack ended the attempt at 5,700 metres. “They had to drag me down, I lost use of my legs and my eyes,” Bobby said of the attempt. “My mind wanted to keep going, but my body told me that’s it.” Bobby’s plan for his Everest climb will cost him more than $300,000. He will have a team of 23 people, which includes Sherpas, cooks, porters, nurses, doctors and a paramedic. Andrew Lock, one of Australia’s most accomplished high-altitude climbers, will lead the August expedition. Andrew has climbed all 14 of the world’s 8000-metre mountains. Bobby said his main training base was at Falls


Creek in Victoria’s Alpine National Park, but he had also made regular training trips to Mount Everest Base Camp. “I’ve been to base camp maybe eight times,” he said. “The first time was a real shock, it took about nine days walking seven hours a day, it was torture, but the more you do something the better you get at it. “I’ve got to a stage where the base camp walk takes me about four or five days now.”




Bobby is ambitious, his personality is infectious, and he is unique in his ability to work through pain to achieve his goals. However, his message for people with disability and their carers is simple. “The message I want to get out there for people with disabilities and their carers is to just give it your best shot – that’s what I am trying to advocate to people,” Bobby said. “You don’t have to do amazing and crazy things like making it up and down Everest, it might be something as simple as getting out of the house, or going for a walk. “Just start – and that’s why I’m doing this, my message is, if you put your mind to something you can do it – have a go and see what happens.” Bobby said MS was no longer something which defined his life. “Depression is a common thing for people with disabilities, where people feel it’s too hard and they have no motivation,” he said, “I’m going to do my best to combat the disability, I’m going to do my best to deal with it and that’s what I say to people – get out there and do your best, whatever shape that might take.”

Bobby remains around $200,000 short of his funding goal for the Everest climb, while his health has also delayed attempts to climb the world’s tallest mountain. He is in regular contact with his physician, Dr Helmut Butzkueven, who has expressed grave concerns for Bobby, including the risk of death. Bobby said he was realistic about the risks of his climb, and had developed a Risk Mitigation Plan. “My doctor has said I’m going to die if I go that high; I will die because my MS is so severe, my nervous system will shut down,” he said. “I’m not allowed to fly unless my doctor signs, but he’s a good bloke, I like him and he’s been my doctor for a long time. “He’s just looking out for me, but you know stranger things have happened.”

Follow Bobby’s journey to Everest by visiting www.bobbybajram.com To contribute to Bobby’s climb visit www.gofundme.com/bobbybajram



At just seventeen, Levi finished school. As a young man with autism and a learning disability, a New Zealand citizen living in Australia, it was never going to be a straightforward leap from school into work for Levi. He found it difficult to find paid employment and his access to services was hampered by his citizenship. Levi’s mother, Pene, had almost given up hope of ever getting any type of support or assistance for her son. Then, one day, she saw a flyer for the YOUth Community program. Initially thinking it was for “mainstream” youth only, she still made contact and organised a visit to the program venue to meet the staff. Strathpine YOUth Community program mentor, Lisa Bowers, said that Pene quickly overcame her hesitation and agreed for Levi to be part of the program. “Pene said that as soon as she entered the room and met staff and participants she knew that this was a greatly supportive and inclusive environment for Levi.” Levi began the program with the ultimate goal of making new friends. But the 18-year-old has gained so much more than


that through the specialised program, which is part of the Australian Government’s Empowering YOUth initiative. “Levi’s participation in the program saw new friendships form as his peers took him under their wing,” Lisa said. Socially, events like beach cricket, group barbeques and the Wellness Wednesday program helped Levi to feel comfortable, while Lisa said that Levi’s competitive spirit soon shone through. He won several prizes through the phone app, while also participating in online quizzes. New friends also helped empower him, as Lisa tells. “Levi’s friend Geoff has also been a great friend and support, mentoring him to use public transport and teaching him the correct stops from his home to the program in Strathpine.” This was a big step, as Levi has previously relied solely on his parents for transport. For Levi, making new friends was just the first step into his journey into adulthood; he was also keen to get a start in the workforce. Program staff introduced Levi to supported employment services, where MatchWorks team member, Chris, saw potential in Levi for a part-time trolley collector position at the local Coles.

For more information on Edlinks, please visit www.genutraining.org.au

An interview was arranged between the Coles Supervisor, Ross, and Levi, with program staff also going along to support Levi. All went well, with Levi completing and passing an online test before moving on to the induction stage, learning Work Health and Safety processes and the duties required for the role. Levi was offered a work trial and commenced employment on January 25, 2018. “We supported Levi in his initial weeks at work by shadowing his duties, while he worked alongside supermarket staff,” Lisa said. Levi’s technique in pushing multiple trolleys up hill (using correct strapping) was soon mastered. “A natural ability to communicate with the public, show respect and deliver quality customer service was a delight to see as Levi settled into his new role and surroundings,” Lisa said. “Levi also memorised his employee identification number and the login process quickly and has developed great relationships with his colleagues, Chris and Michael, and his supervisor, Ross.” Becoming confident in getting to and from work, providing a quality resume, learning interview skills and understanding how to set goals have all been big steps for Levi, and having access to the right support has made all the difference. Lisa said they are on this journey with Levi,

supporting him both in his employment and as he continues to become more independent. Outside of work, Levi is continuing in the YOUth Community program in Strathpine, which can provide links to supportive social groups and, hopefully, allow Levi to enjoy activities outside of home and build more friendships with people his own age.

WHAT IS YOUTH COMMUNITY? MatchWorks is delivering the Australian Government’s Empowering YOUth initiative through the YOUth Community model over the next two years.Operating across three states, it helps unemployed young people improve their skills and move toward sustainable employment. Aimed at young people age 15 to 24, the program uses the innovative Job Quest app, which tracks points based on player achievements. Participants develop key skills including social skills, leadership ability and confidence, and works towards improving their ‘employability’. And, because there’s nothing like a challenge to keep people motivated, participants are encouraged to reach goals, challenging their app scores, whilst also receiving mentoring support.




A series of unusual phone calls from his father gave Kelly Dubberley an uneasy feeling, and led to one of the most difficult discoveries of his life. At the time, the Barwon Water Health, Safety and Wellbeing Advisor was working for a mining company in Western Australia in 2011, and his role included conducting welfare checks on contractors who had failed to turn up to work. Too often, Kelly would be confronted with a tragic scene, with fifteen recorded suicides on his sites alone. He also heard many stories of contractors attempting or contemplating suicide due to the


isolating nature of their work. “I was at work, two weeks into a four-week roster when I received a call from my father to have a general chat about life, asking how my kids were and, to me, this was just a normal father-son conversation,” he said. “Two days later I received a call from him again and he was asking when I was coming home, which I thought was strange as I’d already told him in the previous phone call. Three days after that he called again, and pretty well mirrored the last conversation we’d had.”

A week later, Kelly flew to Melbourne and received news that his father had attempted to take his own life by drinking a cup of alloy wash acid. Despite treatment at a hospital, Kelly’s father died a few hours later. “I found out the next day that Dad had been diagnosed with depression and was on a few different medications to try and manage his [illness],” Kelly said. “It was discovered that one of the forms of mediation he was taking had a number-one side effect that may give you suicidal tendencies. “To this day we don’t know why he did it and, to be honest, we never will.” A permanent move back to Victoria in 2015 led to employment with Barwon Water, and an opportunity to complete a two-day Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) course through genU Training proved to be a light-bulb moment. MHFA training teaches participants about identifying the signs and symptoms of common and disabling mental health problems, how to provide initial help, and how to get professional help. “I went in a bit sceptical about what I was going to get out of it, but I requested to do it for the simple fact that it was a personal journey for me, to try and stick the puzzle pieces together with my story,” Kelly said. Photography by Geelong Advertiser

“After the second day, I went home that night, I had a read through the handbook and it really hit home that I could make a difference here. “For the first time I felt the weight lifted off my shoulders personally and I thought if I could do that for one person over the next twelve months then I’ve done my job.” Barwon Water has established a MHFA team with representatives from right across the business. The group has had hundreds of conversations with fellow workmates about mental health over the past two years, with some workers connecting with professional assistance as a result. Kelly said talking to a member of the MHFA team was a starting point for co-workers who felt the need to start a conversation about mental health. “Mental health affects everyone right across the board, young and old, male and female, people in the field, people in the office,” he said. “I get so much satisfaction out of knowing I can identify the signs now, and to be able to give the advice is actually pretty powerful. “And Barwon Water have been so passionate about addressing mental health. A lot of companies talk about it, but when it comes time to put the rubber on the road it doesn’t happen.” MHFA Instructor Julie Haddock said the course was a powerful tool to understand the importance of breaking down stigma around mental health concerns. “MHFA gives people permission to stop ‘wearing masks’ at work,” Julie said. “The course provides people with the necessary skills and knowledge, and empowers them to find confidence in their conversation, to support a person experiencing mental illness. “This is particularly important as according to Beyond Blue research, one in five Australians every year who are employed take time off work due to their mental health, even though they may not reveal that as the reason.”

To talk to someone about mental health please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636. For more information about MHFA contact 1300 582 687 or visit www.genutraining.org.au



Photography by Phil Nitchie, Nitch Photography



Kirrily Hayward is a fighter. Faced with seemingly endless waves of trials and tribulations throughout her life, Kirrily has come out the other side stronger, wiser, and even more determined to fight for the rights of people with a disability and the LGBTQI community. Her achievements in advocacy and activism within these spaces was recognised recently when she won the award for Leadership and Advocacy at the Geelong Awards for People with a Disability earlier this year. But her journey to now has not been an easy one. Kirrily is a young woman living in a nursing home; ongoing health issues linked to her disability means she requires access to care and living with elderly patients in an aged care facility is the only option provided to her. She was born with spina bifida, an abnormality affecting the complete development of the spinal cord, vertebrae, and overlying skin; a disability she does not let define her, but rather has driven her resolve for equality and respect. Kirrily also started the journey of coming out as a lesbian and

gender diverse when she was 19, beginning the process of unwrapping her identity and cementing her place in the world. Growing up on a horse stud farm in Ballarat, Kirrily had the unconditional support and love of her two parents. Her mother, Anita, a dedicated nurse for 30 years, would take her to her appointments, stay with her in the hospital and tend to her daughter’s other needs. “She was like three-quarters of me. She was definitely my rock. Big time,” Kirrily said. Tragically, Kirrily’s mother passed away in 2003 as a result of cancer that spread from an inoperable brain tumour; she was in remission at the time of the diagnosis after having already battled breast cancer in 2001. Kirrily was just 16 years old. She remembers her mother to be a strong, dignified woman, who lived a life of determination and sheer guts, traits unequivocally passed onto her daughter. Kirrily and her father grew close in the following few years, but, as a young woman who had lost her mother and was weighed down by the closeted secret of being a lesbian, Kirrily felt alone. She was bullied and excluded by her high school peers for being different. “I felt shame about it for a long time,” she said. “I think in the era of the early 2000s, the subject was still taboo and the harsh attitudes toward gay, bi, trans, et cetera was still rampant, especially in my school.” When she finally came out to her father, their relationship slowly began to break down; with her father unable to accept her identity, Kirrily reflected that the relationship eventually became toxic to continue. She would later become heavily involved in the LGBTQI community as an activist, and one of many prominent drivers for the ‘Say Yes Geelong’ campaign that supported the passing of marriage equality legislation. Kirrily fought alongside other local activists in the community and said she was grateful for their support and the friendships she made throughout the campaign and leading up to the nationwide result. She attributes much of her happiness and wellbeing today to embracing her place in the LGBTQI community. Having built connections that supported her to be proud of her identity and comfortable in her own skin, she encouraged anyone in a similar situation to do the same.

As Kirrily had just begun growing into her liberated skin, 2009 proved to be one of her most challenging years. Whilst studying a social work course at university and fighting her own mental health battles, Kirrily’s right leg began to swell, redden, and developed an infection. “I remember writhing in pain. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I was crying. I couldn’t move. I decided to take myself to the hospital and get an amputation,” Kirrily said. Shortly after the amputation of her right leg, Kirrily’s left leg began to exhibit the same symptoms and was also amputated. Determined to push forward, she moved to Geelong on her own and applied her life experience and passion for the gym into starting a degree in Human Movement. Six months into her three-year degree, illness struck again. She developed a stage four pressure area on her lower body and was hospitalised for three months with ongoing procedures and surgeries. Kirrily was transferred to an aged care facility for four months as part of her transitional care. With her physical health battered and living in a nursing


home at the age of 25, her mental health began to fall sharply into decline and she developed severe depression and social anxiety. “I was just shutting myself in my room, in my own little personal prison, away from all that madness. I didn’t want to know about it,” she recalled. Kirrily was eventually transferred to another aged care facility with the goal of being home within three months, but has lived there ever since due to ongoing problems with her pressure area. Now, aged 30, and having worked tirelessly toward a healthier and happier version of herself, she reflects on the darker times as a young person living in a nursing home and the things she has witnessed. “I can recall when I was six months into living in a nursing home, I watched two bodies being carried out in one day. You see things that, as a young person, you shouldn’t see.” Since 2013, Kirrily has been a strong voice for young people living in nursing homes, urging them to stay strong and find support. Although she is positive about the work being done in the disability accommodation space, she describes progress as slow, and the entire situation as unacceptable. “Young people shouldn’t be stuck in that environment. They deserve dignity and respect. Being encased within clinical white walls; it’s hard and cold. It’s not homely, and it’s not conducive to recovery. You can’t undo the psychological damage of that experience.” Kirrily is now consulting professionally on topics of disability housing and LGBTQI issues, drawing from her lived experience and specialised knowledge. Her focus is on educating schools, universities, businesses and other audiences on the issues faced by these groups. Kirrily praised her former colleagues at Clickability, an organisation best described as “like Trip Advisor but for disability support” for their care and friendship over the last few years. The ‘clicka-team’, as she fondly called them, helped her to grow personally and professionally so she could, in turn, help others. They are a team she hopes to continue to help wherever and however she can.


“Aviva, Jenna, and the whole clicka-team helped me to feel comfortable within myself and my identity through their support, inclusivity, and above all, their friendship. They’re all like family to me and I’m so grateful for their love and support.” Kirrily said. Kirrily describes her vision for the future as being one where disability accommodation and care caters to the individual’s age and life stage. Where independent living and coping skills are facilitated in a warm, homely environment with the right resources and support on hand. The reality is that Kirrily is angry about her situation and the experiences young people have living in nursing homes across Australia. By channelling her anger and frustration into purposeful and meaningful action, she continues to fight for change and spread her message, driving her vision for a future of equality and respect. TODAY IN AUSTRALIA, MORE THAN 6,200 YOUNGER PEOPLE (UNDER 65) WITH DISABILITY HAVE NO OTHER CHOICE BUT TO LIVE IN NURSING HOMES. * Source: The Summer Foundation

Contact Kirrily about consulting, speaking, and educating p. 0484 112 850 e. kirrilydhayward@gmail.com www.facebook.com/khaywardpublicspeaker www.linkedin.com/in/kirrilydanielehayward




CHLOE HAYDEN Making Her Mark

Chloe Hayden, who plays Heidi in Jeremy the Dud, is a successful YouTuber, performer and ambassador in her own right. Since making Jeremy the Dud, Chloe has continued to share her inspiring videos to her loyal fan base: a YouTube community of 3000 subscribers (her videos have been viewed almost 169,000 times), around 4000 Facebook fans and 5000 Instagram followers. Speaking opportunities, school tours, singing gigs and modelling are all in a day’s work for this busy performer. Recounting her time on Jeremy the Dud, Chloe said that it was all an amazing experience, as well as something quite unique. “It was the most incredible experience. It’s so different to anything that has been done before… that portrays disabilities in a way that really hasn’t been done before, which is really exciting.” She said it was a close-knit team on set, with bonds developing quickly. “We became a family so quickly. Within the first couple of hours we were poking fun at each other and mucking around, we were just having a good laugh.” A recent highlight was travelling to Sydney to attend the Australian premiere of The Greatest Showman with fellow Jeremy the Dud actor, Sam Humphrey. “I’m still pinching myself about it,” she told viewers in a recent video. “I just came out of the after-party for The Greatest Showman. That was the craziest experience of my life.”


With the trailer alone attracting 10 million views online, the short film Jeremy the Dud has been a success on many fronts. The Geelong-based production has attracted critical acclaim as well as some serious viewer numbers, having won awards at the Melbourne City Independent Film Awards (Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress) as well as Flicks 4 Change (Audience Choice). It is in the running for prizes at a list of other film festivals and has been shown at universities worldwide, including Princeton in the United States. A trail of media attention followed the film’s release, with spots on ABC TV News Breakfast, Channel 7 and John Faine’s radio program on 774 ABC Melbourne, as well as features in The Guardian and Huffington Post. There has also been interest from the UK in a Jeremy the Dud spinoff. The concept for the film came from an idea to flip social norms, pointing out stereotypes that people with disabilities face regularly. Chloe danced with Hollywood star Zendaya but that wasn’t her only celebrity moment. “I actually tripped over Hugh Jackman’s shoe. I apologised to him and he apologised to me, and I was like this, ‘This is the greatest encounter of my life’.”


From Neighbours To Hollywood Blockbuster When he was born, Sam Humphrey’s parents were told he wouldn’t live past 18. Now, the 24-yearold has proved the doctors wrong. The actor, who plays Jai in Jeremy the Dud, was born with acrodysplasia, a genetic condition that affects bone growth. “I’ve had many times where I’ve had people follow me around the supermarket or shopping centre asking me, ‘Little boy, are you lost?’ or, ‘Where’s your parents?’,” said Sam. A few years ago, Sam cashed in his savings to Facebook.com/Jeremythedud

Photography by Phil Nitchie, Nitch Photography


make a show reel. His star rising, Sam began working on Neighbours, before landing a role in a major feature film, The Greatest Showman. Working with Hugh Jackman in the film was a dream come true for Sam, who said that watching Hugh in X-Men made him want to take up acting. “He’s been a mentor and he’s given me great career advice. I’ve got to admit, the very first time I went on set, I was extremely intimidated. But then he gave me this inspirational speech, saying, ‘Sam, you’re incredible, you’re unique’. He just kept on repeating that. And I broke down. I literally bawled my eyes out.” Life at the moment is a whirlwind, but it’s clear the young actor is enjoying it all, while keeping the focus on his career. “It’s certainly gotten quite busy for me, with all the social media. I’ve been having people message me saying that they love me, and how cute and adorable I am. So yeah, it’s been pretty hectic.” You know you’ve made it when people start sending you fan art, and Sam has been inundated with drawings from fans, which he has put up on his social media. From attending movie premieres and parties - even the Golden Globes - his Instagram shows selfies with Emily Blunt, Christopher Walken and Natalie Portman. When REALISE asks him what his plans are for the rest of the year, Sam said that he does have a few projects in the works, although he couldn’t reveal details. What we do know is that travel is on the cards. He’s based in LA at the moment (having shot a major national commercial in the US already) and he’s UKbound soon, though not before a visit back to Australia for a few weeks. “I’m travelling to London in October for a convention, and a project which I can’t really talk about yet...

there’s a recurring theme,” he laughed.

ADAM BOWES Triple Threat

Adam Bowes plays Kyle on Jeremy the Dud and, like colleague Sam, the Sydney actor has enjoyed a role in a Hollywood blockbuster, having been directed by none other than Mel Gibson in Hacksaw Ridge. Adam also had a role in the supernatural horror film, Winchester, which starred Dame Helen Mirren. As well as a career in acting and singing, Adam is a competitive swimmer and Paralympic recordbreaker. He recently was a speaker at the Inclusion and Diversity in Sports conference in Adelaide. Adam said that since being in Jeremy the Dud, life had changed. “It’s opened up a few work opportunities for me as well in the industry and I’m currently working on a few projects as a result.” As well as that, friendships that were forged on set continue on. “Chloe, Sam and I, although we live in different states, still keep in touch often and have a lot of fun when we catch up. “I also caught up for dinner with Nick Boshier [who played the title role of Jeremy] not long ago, and Ryan and I were recently in Adelaide to talk at a conference on Disability and inclusion in Sport, which was awesome!” Adam said he’s noticed an overwhelmingly positive response to Jeremy the Dud. “It’s being shared everywhere, to different disability and parent groups, which is so wonderful. Someone told me that the Vice President of Argentina apparently live streamed the full 20-minutes on Facebook, which was incredibly random, but cool.” Adam said that some issues shown in the film are ones he has definitely noticed mirrored in real life. Like people illegitimately parking in disabled parking spaces, which motivated Adam to post a YouTube video about it. He has observed that his videos are having a positive reach. “I’ve found that some of my videos have helped newer amputees especially, or people who, for one reason or another, have to have an amputation in the future. So, I’ll certainly keep up the videos.”




On 30 March 2007, Australia joined 80 other nations at the UN in New York in signing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Convention had been more than 20 years in the making. In this issue, as we look at the challenges and the opportunities around disability employment, there is a consistent thread through the stories, and that is the right to work free of discrimination. It remains supremely relevant today that the right to work was specifically addressed in Article 27 of the 2007 Convention. Article 27 of the United Nations Convention on the Right of Persons with Disabilities states: “Parties recognize the right of persons with disabilities to work, on an equal basis with others; this includes the right to the opportunity to gain a living by work freely chosen or accepted in a labour market and work environment that is open, inclusive and accessible to persons with disabilities.”


WHAT DO WE KNOW The ‘Willing to Work: National Inquiry into Employment Discrimination Against Older Australians and Australians with Disability’ report highlighted that, in 2012, the labour force participation rate for people with disability was just over 50%, compared with more than 80% for working-age Australians without disability being employed. It was a statistic that had hardly changed for 20 years. In 2010, Australia was ranked 21st out of 29 OECD (The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and


As 2014 was coming to a close, the Australian Human Rights Commission began a major inquiry into employment discrimination experienced by older Australians and Australians with a disability. This piece of work seriously looked at the barriers to work, the attitudes towards hiring people with disability or older people, and what could be done to achieve change. But it also did something else, it told us about the experiences of people looking for and hoping for meaningful work. What it found was that it’s far, far harder than it should be for people with a disability and older Australians to gain employment. It is past time to pull those barriers down.

Development) countries for rates of employment for people with a disability. PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) research estimates that the national economy could be boosted by as much as $50 billion in the year 2050 if we were to rank in the top eight. Higher living standards, financial independence, physical and mental health benefits, increases in sense of identity and self-worth, these are all some of the benefits of meaningful work. Businesses employing people with disability benefit from a broader range of skills and experience, higher retention rates, better work attendance rates and fewer occupational health and safety incidents.

JENNA’S STORY For Jenna Bailey, finding paid employment has been a goal she has worked hard to reach. The 31-year-old Mornington Peninsula resident has cerebral palsy and mostly walks with the aid of a walking stick. While her disability has placed limitations on her freedom of movement and affects her speech, there are no limitations on her deep understanding of equality and her passion for speaking up for the rights of people with disability. And this makes her work as a Peer Support and Advocacy Officer with the Mornington Peninsula Shire all the more meaningful. When REALISE asked Jenna about her first day of work, she fired back with the date, the 19th of July 2017. She described feeling shocked and amazed at the opportunity when she first heard she had been successful in applying for the job. Studying a Certificate 1 in Work Education began the journey for Jenna, with her interest in advocacy and peer support inspired by her experiences attending VALiD’s Having A Say conferences. At the conferences, she met team members of the Mornington Peninsula Shire’s Social and Community Planning Department and through these connections was able to do her Work Education Placement in the department. That experience was invaluable in gaining a paid position for one day a week as part of the team. Jenna brings a valuable perspective; it’s not one you can learn, it’s one you have to live. It’s the kind of shared experience that drives positive change. “We had an incident in the pool with one of the female clients. I went to my boss the next day and said that we should be doing something about stranger danger and cyber bullying, because a lot of people in the programs are getting cyber bullied and don’t have the awareness of stranger danger. “I got a policewoman to come along to two sessions. So, I think I’m making a really big impact on the people I work for and the people that I help. “I never would have thought that was possible.” Completing a train-the-trainer course on Sexual Lives and Respectful Relationships has also helped build Jenna’s confidence as an advocate and peer support worker. It is an area that Jenna holds a very personal interest in. “Seven years ago, I had a baby. She’s in Queensland at the moment, because of my disability. So, my sister is looking after her for me. “It was so painful,” Jenna said, of letting someone else raise her baby, “but at least I get to see her and at

least she’s not adopted out of the family.” Jenna’s openness in talking about her daughter / niece, Zara, and how difficult that choice was, says a lot about why it’s important having women with disability working in disability support services. One year on from that day of work at the Shire and this is just the beginning for Jenna’s career. “I would like to, eventually, get two days of work and still go to day service. But, ideally, I would love two days of work each week. And then I would love to eventually become an advocate for people who can’t speak for themselves. “There’s a participant in Rosebud who I just fell in love with. She can’t talk, she’s in a wheelchair all the time and I just fell in love with her. I said to myself, ‘What would I want to say for myself if I couldn’t speak?’ “So, I would really like to be someone who could speak up for other people who can’t speak up themselves, or who are too scared to speak up.” Living close to Frankston, Jenna attends genU day programs in Frankston. “Can I just say, that all the genU staff at Mornington, Frankston and Rosebud are fantastic with what they do; I wouldn’t be the woman I am today without their support, their encouragement and their positivity,” she said. REALISE asked Jenna about what it feels like to be able to support other people with disability. “It’s just amazing. I love the closeness, and all the people [at work] have been so friendly to me and so welcoming that I don’t to ever want to have to leave.” When the Sexual Lives and Respectful Relationships program is running, Jenna is a Peer Educator, talking to groups of people with disability about how to have a safe relationship and to stay safe when they’re having sex. Jenna was awarded the 2017 genU Karingal St Laurence annual Achiever Award in acknowledgement of her inspiring work for her local community.

To find out more about the Sexual Lives and Respectful Relationships program visit: deakin.edu.au/health-social-development/programs/SLRR




For Mat McKenzie, forgetting the little things is all too real. In 2011, his life was turned upside when the then 26-year-old was diagnosed with left occipital ganglioglioma – a rare benign tumour situated on his brain. He underwent surgery to reduce the brain tumour, which resulted in him experiencing significant difficulty with his short and long-term memory and concentration. He also suffered from daily and fortnightly seizures, each of which could take days to recover from. As if things weren’t bad enough, his mother had recently suffered two strokes and now required a wheelchair. In June 2015, Mat started seeing MatchWorks employment consultant, Kirra Beckley, at a time when he was also the main carer for his mother. “When I first met Kirra, it felt like she was going out of her way to find something for me,” said Mat.

Kirra said that while Mat had done a great job living and caring for his mother, his own health had been put on hold. “He was doing an excellent job caring for his mother and portrayed the skills and attributes that would succeed in this area. Due to the stress involved, his seizures became more frequent and his health deteriorated.” She said that, as they helped arrange an NDIS care plan for his mother, he was soon able to focus more on himself and his own goals. With Kirra’s sense of commitment and Mat’s open approach, a relationship of trust was soon formed. “She was passionate about what she was doing and I could tell that, in between clients, she did a lot of research as she always had something planned or organised and had ideas on what path I should go down”, Mat said.

Photography by Phil Nitchie, Nitch Photography


Mat was living in Breakwater when he first attended the MatchWorks East Geelong office in 2014, but has since moved a few times to other parts of Geelong. Despite being closer to other MatchWorks offices, he made the decision to remain at the East Geelong branch. “Kirra can tell by looking at me when I’m not having a great day or when something isn’t going great in my life. I didn’t want to lose that connection,” said Mat. He now continues to attend the East Geelong branch as a voluntary client, even four years after originally coming in. MatchWorks first assisted Mat into hospitality employment, however, after three months, the late night hours took a toll on his health and his GP advised that this was no longer an option for him. Mat was placed on a Disability Support Pension (DSP) as his mental health began to deteriorate. Kirra said that, given Mat’s health, he would need a suitable job that allow him to work in a selfpaced manner. “He enrolled in a Certificate IV in Mental Health and Alcohol and Other Drugs full-time, as he wanted to move into an area where he was able to help people and had a goal of becoming a youth worker.” Kirra said that throughout the course, Mat continued to draw on support as a voluntary client. Due to his condition, he had difficulty with his memory as well as getting used to study again. “He continued to attend appointments for


assistance to understand his units and to also work on obtaining employment,” she said. Mat is now seeing Marcus, another employment consultant at the site. It’s clear that there’s another fruitful relationship in the works. “Now with Marcus being my employment consultant, he has picked up on those signs too and he and I have a good rapport. “Jacqui in reception and I have a bit of a banter sometimes. She’s a lot of fun and brightens my day and sometimes that is something I need, because sometimes my days aren’t so great,” he said. “The whole office is quite welcoming. They all give you a smile and a wave. I just feel good coming here.” Mat continues to actively job search and hopes to fulfil his dream of being a youth worker.

Footwear manufacturer Steve Maul says finding someone with the right skills and experience to work in his industry is challenging. Shoemaking is an artisan craft, a niche industry dominated by cheaper imports designed to be used and discarded. Thirty or more years ago it was common for many old shoes to be repaired and re-soled, providing solid employment for shoemakers. Not so now. Census data shows the number of shoemakers in Australia has decreased from 1307 in 2006 to just 930 in 2016. Steve is the factory manager with iconic Geelongbased footwear manufacturer EMU Australia, famed for its sheepskin and merino wool products. He says the trade is in decline. ‘It can take six months to train someone from scratch. Then they don’t stay,’ Steve said. ‘It’s a bit of a dying industry and it’s getting harder to find the right staff.

‘I called Anas in and we did the application together.’ Anas was offered a full-time position as a sheepskin clicker - someone who cuts the uppers for boots or shoes from the hide - and started in January 2018. The job has transformed his life. He has confidence and he is grateful to be using his skills again. Steve said the fact that Anas had experience in the industry was a huge plus for him and made it an easy decision to offer him a job. ‘When he started we had someone with him for about four weeks, but now he’s come up to speed and running on his own,’ Steve said. ‘He is doing really well.’ A loss of skilled talent is evident in a host of other artisan industries. The number of sewing machinists in Australia, for example, has dropped from 13,313 in 2006 to 8,129 in 2016. Those working in textile dyeing have dropped from 301 in 2006 to 96 in 2016.

‘We do all our Australian products from here at Geelong, and we also export overseas. The market’s there but young people don’t realise there are still jobs for people with these skills’.

But there are growth areas. The number of stonemasons has risen from 3,625 to 4,436. Translators have gone up from 1,219 to 1,542. And dog handlers have flourished, rising from 578 to 1,098.

Late last year, Syrian-born migrant Anas Jawish was struggling.

Hairdressers, which include barbers, increased from 47,874 in 2006 to 54,421 in 2016.

A shoemaker with 20 years’ experience, he was nevertheless finding it difficult to get work. He sought help through MatchWorks in Geelong, which pairs job seekers with employers through the jobactive program. ‘We were having little luck finding work and then I noticed a shoemaker position at EMU Australia headquarters,’ Mimi Wong from MatchWorks said.

©Commonwealth of Australia 2018

Want to know more about occupation trends and numbers in Australia? Visit www.joboutlook.gov.au





Jannik Blair was just 12 years old on the day he was driving his grandpa’s ute on the family’s Horsham farm before it flipped and rolled. Having won the fight of his life, Jannik endured weeks of rehabilitation before, eventually, going back to school. But his life was never going to turn out the way he’d imagined. He now had a permanent disability. When he first rolled his wheelchair into St Brigid’s College in Horsham, his closest mates were simply thankful he was alive. Other students went overboard with kindness and some just didn’t know how to relate to Jannik – their classmate who, in the blink of an eye, had changed forever. “All I wanted to do was get back to school. That sounds weird for a young high school kid, but during my recovery I really missed being like every other kid,” Jannik said. “You don’t want to be treated any differently. “The school community was great for me. They made life much happier for me and the school itself was very accessible and installed a few extra ramps for me, so there was nothing I missed out on.” Fast-forward 14 years and St Brigid’s College now counts Jannik as one of its greatest success stories. The 26-year-old has built an elite career as a professional wheelchair basketballer. He is a World Champion, a two-time Paralympian (silver medallist) and has competed in 15 different countries, including the United States. Right now, he plies his trade in Spain for European League team, Bilbao. Jannik has also completed a four-year international business degree at the University of Alabama and has aspirations to join his family’s seed and grain business, PB Seeds. But his basketball career remains the number one focus. Jannik trains five days a week and has an impressive physique that allows him to avoid injury. “When you’re in a wheelchair, you can really only concentrate on upper body training. You need to be as powerful as possible in my sport, otherwise you can’t compete. The stronger you are, the less you get thrown around on the court.” It was during his rehabilitation that the idea to become a Paralympian basketballer took hold.

“Some of the guys who were training for the 2004 Athens Paralympics came and visited us in rehab. That was before the Games and when they returned they showed us their medals,” Jannik said. “I was always into sport, but that’s where the inspiration for wheelchair basketball came from. “My family found a few old wheelchairs and my brother and cousins would play games with me,” he said. Wheelchair basketball is played by the same rules as the able-bodied game, with 12 in the team, five on the court. The players are every bit as concerned with having the best kit as any other pro ball players, and Jannik’s custom-made wheelchair is worth as much as $8000. “It’s designed so that the wheelchair and my body are one unit. That makes it more manoeuvrable and much easier to get back up when you fall. “The most common injury I suffer is usually to the fingers. Sometimes you can hurt your elbow when you fall backwards.” After fielding several offers from French, Italian and Spanish teams, Jannik last year signed with Bidaideak Bilbao BSR in the Spanish Wheelchair Basketball League. Bilbao is an industrial port city in northern Spain, and Jannik enjoys the professionalism and passion for wheelchair basketball in his adopted city. The stadiums are usually full for Jannik’s matches and the standard of competition is very strong. “The crowd really get behind us as their local team. And that’s a great feeling when you are living so far from home,” he said. “We play a game on Saturday then we have our recovery and debrief and then start preparing for the coming week. It’s quite hectic.” Jannik’s next major goal is the 2018 Wheelchair Basketball World Championships to be held in Hamburg, Germany, during August. The Australian team are the defending champions,


Photography by Getty Images

having defeated the United States in the final of the 2014 tournament in South Korea – a triumph Jannik played a key role in. The team, nicknamed the Rollers, also clinched victory at the previous World Championships eight years ago in England. With two Paralympic campaigns already under his belt, Jannik knows the 2020 Games in Tokyo are also on the horizon. “If all goes to plan it will be a pretty big few years ahead,” he said. Jannik has a message for any young person experiencing disability: “Life is what you make it. When you are ready to get on with your life,


you’ve got to adopt the right attitude and work towards your goals,” he said. “It’s not just about sport either. Some people have the talent to build a highly successful professional career, or anything really. And having a disability is in no way a barrier to being elite in whatever you choose. “There is plenty of help out there. You’ve got to be willing to accept it.” What would Jannik be doing with his life if the accident never happened? “It’s tough question to answer. But the bottom line is that I’m very happy so far with the way my life has turned out.” Follow Jannik on Insta: @JannikBlair




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IPA does things differently. A recruitment firm with more than 30 years experience, they have grown to now having fourteen sites in five states around the country. Their philosophy is simple: ‘be the difference’. This is something that especially shines through their division of IPA Diversity. IPA Diversity is all about matching the right candidates to the right clients, as Debbie Brooks, National Business Manager - IPA Diversity, explained. “Our clients are corporate Australia who have or are putting diversity strategies in place, and are looking to increase diversity in their workforce, this might include disability or indigenous. We help them do that, from a recruitment standpoint.” Such solutions are sought-after by clients, and it’s also a win for candidates, who typically could include indigenous groups, CALD (culturally and linguistically diverse), long-term unemployed or those with disability. “It’s a win-win really. It’s great for the corporates and great for candidates who are finding it difficult to get their foot in the door. Diversity is a real focus, but our clients are often not sure where to start.” This ties into IPA’s point of difference; they see potential where others may not. There is a passion to help draw out the best in their candidates. There’s an assortment of roles in which IPA Diversity place their candidates in. Roles can vary, but usually include white-collar roles in areas like insurance and call centres, as well as banking and finance. Hand-inhand with such roles is the idea of offering support to candidates through a pre-employment program, with some candidates for various diversity cohorts benefitting from additional support through the recruitment process. For example, if a company has an indigenous recruitment target they want to meet, then IPA will help them achieve that by running an indigenous recruitment campaign. This is a key part of IPA Diversity and something Debbie is passionate about continuing on in.

“We spend a few days with our candidates, working with them to understand what the role involves and giving them the skills they need for the role.” “This would normally involve specific training around the role, for example a call centre role may include training on voice quality and tone or what it is like working in a micro managed environment,” said Debbie. There is a benefit here; it offers both support as well as opportunity for evaluation. “It allows us to see how they behave in those three days. As a result, we may decide not to continue with them in the process, or they might decide to themselves opt out of the process.” For those who complete the program, there is a real chance of success. As IPA is located all around the country, the opportunity for diversity is vast. “We have a dedicated indigenous recruitment specialist in Queensland, who is dedicated to helping link indigenous talent with businesses. “He is making some good inroads with different communities, and promoting different job opportunities,” said Debbie. Some recent success stories include indigenous candidates scoring positions with a major bank in Sydney, as well as placing some candidates with a major insurance firm. Recently, the Melbourne IPA team received a day of disability awareness training, as well as cultural awareness training with indigenous cultural awareness consultant Leon Egan. “Because we’re talking a lot about diversity it’s important that we stay ahead of the curve and we know what’s happening out in the industry,” said Debbie. “It was amazing training. It just gives a really good insight into to why we have the gap, what are the common issues, what the history is and what we can do to help to advocate change.”

To find out more about diversity recruitment, visit ipa.com.au or phone 03 9252 2222


I am a paraplegic, paralysed from the waist down since the age of 15 due to slipping, then falling down a 30-metre cliff face at the coastal town of Barwon Heads in Victoria. I have always found it difficult to find a job due to my limited multitasking skills, not being being able to use my legs. I have been working for SERCO for three years, as a customer service officer contracted to one of Australia’s federal departments. Some of the common accessibility and workplace issues I have experienced include:

BUILDING ENTRY There have been a few times at work when there have been difficulties with gaining entry into a building. At a previous work location, the access lift wasn’t working as the owner of the revamped building had removed the entrance ramp in a bid to rent the space out.

TOILETS There have also been times when there has been limited access to the disabled toilet on the floor or


level I’m working on, due to it either being used by other (disabled) persons or due to it being serviced. When this occurs, I have to use the disabled toilet on another floor, provided I had access to that floor, or go down to the ground floor and use it.

CAR PARKING Disabled car parking is another issue, as there never seems to be enough disabled car parks for the building.

BUILDING LAYOUT Floor layout walkway width can be an issue. At one workplace, the walkway was set to just over the minimum standard of 600mm as recommended by the Code of Practice: Managing the work environment and facilities (2011). However, the code also recommends that “aisles and walkways should be at least 600mm wide and kept free of furniture or other obstructions at all times”. This is a not a mandatory legal requirement, it is a guide to achieving the standards of health, safety and welfare required under the WHS Act and Regulations. When I was using the walkway, others had to wait at the end as there was simply no room to pass. When it was brought to management’s attention, all walkway widths were set to 1200mm.

FIRE DRILLS Another important issue is fire drills, especially in a multi-story building. Fire escape platforms are not built to have a wheelchair parked on it when people are rushing down the fire escape to exit the building – the platform is simply not wide enough. People who are confined to wheelchairs or who have other disabilities (vision impaired, using a seeing eye dog, or using a motorised scooter) have to wait until all people have cleared (their own floor and the floors above) the fire escape before safely entering. Building access for wheelchairs has improved since 1982, but office layouts have not – the majority of offices are set up tightly for able-bodied people. My advice to employees and employers is to work together to come up with solutions that benefit both parties, there can be issues, but if you stick at it it’s always worth the effort.


MatchWorks can help guide businesses on how to make their workplaces more accessible. For more information visit https://www. matchworks.com.au/for-employers/ employer-resources/disability-and-workforcemodifications/ or call 1300 132 363

Try not smiling when Scott Tiran is around. Go on, I dare you. Trust me, it’s impossible. The 22-year-old exudes a love of life so genuine and uplifting it sweeps everyone up with it. Now, the NDIS has given Scott one more reason to be happy, though he never seemed to need one. Scott was one of the first Toowoomba National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participants to receive a package when the Scheme rolled out in the region a year ago. All the funding he currently gets is aimed at helping him to live more independently in the future, in a house with his mates, which now might happen sooner rather than later. “It’s a dream now visible on the horizon,” Scott’s mum Michelle Weston said. “It makes me feel so happy to believe living independently could happen for him. The NDIS has already been life changing, not just for Scott, but also for our entire family. “It has been just perfect for us, and I’m blown away by what has been achieved,” she added. Since he graduated from Centenary Heights State High School, Scott has worked at St Vincent’s Hospital as a volunteer, and he is now enjoying paid employment, as a gardener, with Choice, Passion and Life (CPL), formerly known as the Cerebral Palsy League.

He is completing a Certificate I in landscaping conservation, and, in 2017, he was runner-up in the Trainee of the Year Award. He does all the gardening around his parent’s home, and brings a smile to everyone around him every day. “With the help of his NDIS funding, he has been able to start using public transport on his own; iron his own shirt and make his own lunch every day, and recently he paid for his own tennis lesson,” Michelle said. “He is so proud to be a contributing member of society. We are just so delighted for him.” Perhaps what Scott gets most enjoyment from is time spent with his support worker, Anthony, at the Police Citizens Youth Club (PCYC) sports program on Saturdays. “I like playing basketball, soccer and tennis. I like all of them the best,” Scott said. “Anthony comes with me now. He’s a great cheerleader. He is my friend. “We love singing together too. Sometimes we sing the songs on the radio. Sometimes we make up songs about each other.” What’s not to love about that?

For more information visit NDIS.gov.au or call us on 1800 800 110



Climbing and playing on haystacks is all part of childhood for country kids. Sometimes, though, things don’t go to plan. This is something Fred Quarrell, employee at Kui Nursery in Colac, knows firsthand. “My brother and I were mucking around on a haystack. We were raised on a farm, and yeah, we made a hay bale wall.” His brother knelt next to it, then it was Fred’s turn. “The only problem was, I got too close to it,” he said. “And where the ends of the bales met, an arrow went between the ends of the bale and it struck me in the corner of my eye. I was age 13 when that happened.” The sight in his right eye began to deteriorate. Fred was only able to read the newspaper headlines, not the articles. Six months later, he was blind in that eye. Fred said it was hard to find suitable work due to his disability. “Most of the general jobs have policies against employing one-eyed people, because they’re an insurance risk.” Determined to earn a living, he turned to selfemployment, and he ran a courier business, regularly driving around Western Victoria, with


stops at places like Mortlake, Simpson and Timboon. When a health condition developed, it was time to rethink his direction again. Ocular migraines (also known as retinal migraines) began to affect his left eye, and with this came the need for change. Symptoms include headaches, nausea and the propensity for partial or total vision loss. “I called it quits and then I just sat around doing nothing,” he said. “I was unemployed for an awfully long time.” Before taking work at Kui in 2009, Fred said he felt an overwhelming sense of boredom and loneliness without work. “I was sitting at home, playing video games, watching telly, reading books. I just got bored with it,” he said. Fred said he had a sense of something “lacking” in his life during this period, be it “companionship, friendship, or community.” “I asked a bloke if he knew if there were any jobs and he said, ‘why don’t you try the Kui?’ And, here I am.” Fred started working for another genU business on the Queen Street site, Integrated Property Management (IPM), and ended up knee-deep in gardening duties. Kui Nursery Insta @kui_community_nursery

He is now responsible for a variety of duties and a typical day includes tasks like propagating seeds, planting out seedlings, watering and other green thumb jobs. And as happy as Fred is to get his hands dirty, he’s just as happy to leave the botanic names to someone else, saying, “Plant names go in one ear, wrap around and go out of the other ear. I can’t always keep plant names in my head. “I’m still learning,” he laughed. It’s a close-knit and productive team at the nursery, and one that Fred said has been great to be a part of. “Some guys give me a hard time but I give them a hard time back,” he joked. His vision loss has not stopped Fred from living life to his fullest, with pastimes including crafts

and board games. Fred’s passion for his hobbies would sometimes test his physical limitations. “I used to do bead-weaving and all that sort of stuff. Sometimes you’d see beads and they’d be pretty small and I kind of put a bit of pressure on my left eye. Now I’ve got to wear glasses.” Playing games with friends is something Fred still enjoys. He has swapped his card games for one called ‘Blood Bowl’, a fantasy board game fusing elements of American football with fantasy characters like elves, dwarves and orcs. After telling his story to REALISE, it’s back to work. “Before you folk came I was watering up the back anyway, so I’ll just carry on. It’s just another day.”


“Because they own it, they want to make sure that it’s perfect, because it’s a reflection of them.” The Otway Kitchen is an example of this. Last year, the team scooped up the Small to Medium Business Award at the Colac Business Excellence Awards, which has worked to increase popularity further. The win was made even more significant due to the category they entered: the Open section, where they competed against other popular Colac businesses. Megan said that the community in Colac like to support the nursery. “One of the things that we’re really working on is lifting our profile, so people understand that by buying their plants from us they’re supporting careers of people with disability.”

Colac has a thriving genU presence with four well-known businesses in town. Foodies are well looked after with The Otway Kitchen and Botanic Café on the Lake and green thumbs with Kui Nursery. Another business, Integrated Property Management (IPM), provides specialist maintenance services in Colac and beyond. When the REALISE team came to visit the Queen Street site, the delicious smell of tomatoes and spices wafted out of the commercial kitchen as the Otway Kitchen team prepared tomato kasundi. On average, approximately 500 jars are produced every week, as well as a variety of gift hampers. It’s the kind of workplace where staff tend to work across different parts of the business, learning a varied skill set. With 39 supported employees in total, it’s clear something is going right. “We actually have a waiting list. It’s a real job,” said Megan Nelson, Western District manager of genU Business Enterprises. Mentoring is a key part of the workplace culture, and this is led by a small team of supported employees. With this comes “ownership”, said Megan, which benefits everyone. “With that ownership comes the care and love of the product.



WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO SOMEONE WHO HASN’T YET DISCOVERED SEASONS BARWON WATER? Aaron – I would say this is a very friendly place, the people are really nice and they make really good coffee that caters for all needs. We always do our best to deliver the best service possible!

WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE THING ABOUT WORKING HERE? Jillian – It’s a supported environment. It’s really motivating. The staff here look out for each other and it’s sort of like a family.


WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT WORKING HERE? Haylee – I love the people I work with and the values that genU encompasses. I feel proud to work for such an organisation. Supporting supported employees also adds a new dynamic which I enjoy.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE COFFEE? Harjeet – The Colombian is perfect for espresso and with milk due to its berry, honey and caramel characteristics. It’s a perfect balance between strong and mild.

WHAT’S A PERFECT MEAL COMBINATION A CUSTOMER COULD TRY? Annette – For me, a perfect meal would be a coffee and a salad. People sort of mix that up by having a pastry and a salad on the side. Particularly in winter, it’s nice and comforting. Seasons Insta @seasons_barwonwater

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Locations: 101 Queen St, Colac 19-21 McDowell Street, Rosebud 212-216 Swanston Street, South Geelong


Say the words “tea and scones” and visions dance across your mind of steam spiralling from a tea pot, of golden scones with just the right mix of crumbliness and firmness served with glistening dollops of fresh cream and jam on top.

• Never add water Steer clear of adding water; just let the natural juices come through. The other warning he gives is to simmer for three to three-and-a-half hours on a low heat. Don’t let it boil.


• Flavour inspiration While Darron’s favourite is fig jam, chef Jamie is a fan of the (soon-to- be released) blueberry and apple flavour. Whether it’s a traditional jam or a flavour-enhancing paste for meals, there is an endless supply of flavours to experiment with.

When it comes to jam, the Seasons team know how it’s done. They’re becoming known for their innovative combinations and as well as their philosophy of creating preservative-free products. Darron Gower, Seasons Gourmet chef, shares some tips for budding jam makers: • Fresh fruit is key “Try and keep to the season rather than get fruit out of season. You’ll get the better quality at the right time.” • An even approach Once you have your fruit, Darren said, it’s just a matter of matching equal quantities of fruit to sugar. “So, if you pick, say, apricots, you would do equal amounts in quantity… so if you’ve got three kilos of apricots, you’ve got three kilos of sugar.


SCONES Scones are both easy to make and well-loved. For a twist on the traditional scone, head catering chef Jamie Foott recommends simply downsizing. Enter the mini-scone, which is great for entertaining and all around easier to eat. Jamie, Seasons Catering head chef, says her best tips for scone-making is, essentially, not to mix or handle them too much. It also helps to let them rest for half an hour before they bake. For a little bit of an indulgence, Jamie shares her secret; “I put a little bit of vanilla bean into the cream, that makes it that little bit nicer.”


Makes 10

INGREDIENTS 350 grams of self-raising flour (plus extra flour for kneading) 1 cup of cream 1½ cup of lemonade Cream, to serve Seasons Gourmet strawberry and cranberry jam, to serve

1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius (340 degrees Fahrenheit) and grease and line a baking tray with baking powder. 2. Sift flour into a bowl. Make a well at centre. Add cream and lemonade to flour and using a roundbladed knife, mix ingredients. 3. Turn dough out onto a lightly-floured surface. Press dough into 3cm thick round piece. 4. Using a 5.5cm round cookie cutter, cut dough into ten rounds. Re-roll offcuts if necessary. Place rounds side by side on tray. 5. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until scones are golden and sound hollow when they’re tapped.

TO SERVE Using an electric mixer, beat serving cream until peaks form. Layer scones with jam and cream. Recipe by Jamie Foott.


• Handle the dough as little as possible • Scones are best made and eaten on the same day • Arrange side by side for even rising

Photography by Erin Gilhome, MyPath student.


Food, glorious food … and wine! The genU Gourmet Food & Wine Trail fundraiser was held on Friday May 18 with 50 people attending the intimate progressive lunch. Guests spent the afternoon exploring some of the Golden Plains Shire’s most reputable venues, starting with entree at Inverleigh Cellar & Kitchen with wines by Austins & Co., the main course was held at Clyde Park, and the day finished with dessert at Lethbridge Wines with the sweet treats provided by genU’s own Seasons Catering. The fundraiser was hosted by gt editor Kylie Oliver and supported by VicSuper for the second year in a row. Thanks to our auctioneer, Joe Grgic of Harcourts North Geelong, and the many local businesses that donated prizes. The event raised $9,000. Proceeds from the Gourmet Food & Wine Trail will contribute to raising funds to complete much-needed landscaping in genU’s purpose-built respite facility, Melaluka House. Melaluka House opened in 2012 in Leopold and caters for five individuals at any one time, providing families with respite breaks from their caregiving role – a role that can be highly demanding and stressful.



COLAC BOTANIC CAFE ON THE LAKE food with a view, by genU

Drop in and visit: 1 Fyans St, Colac (03) 5232 2858 Our doors are open: Monday – Friday 9:00am – 4:00pm And we’re on Instagram! @botaniccafe

All products in The Otway Kitchen produce range are made by hand in small batches. We use only the freshest seasonal produce. All the hard work is done by a dedicated and passionate team of support employees who are learning new skills in our industrial kitchen and building confidence in a work environment.

To find out more or to place an order please visit theotwaykitchen.com.au

10 Queen St, Colac 3250 Ph. (03) 5231 5153 M. 0417 641 549 45 sales@theotwaykitchen.com.au

We caught up with genU participants to find out what they’re enjoying on TV and the big screen.







“It’s a cool show because a lot of the tools they use for hacking are based on real-life tools like Kali

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES (1990) “What I found amazing about the first film was how they actually managed to capture everything with the lack of technology compared to today’s films.” Film fact: TMNT was the highest-grossing independent film of its time, having made more than $135 million at the United States’ box office. The film grossed a total of $201 million.

“I like all the different styles of cars. I’ve seen all the films!” Film fact: Lead actor Paul Walker died in a car accident during filming of Furious 7 in 2013. His brother Cody Walker acted in Paul’s place to complete the final scenes of the film.


Linux.” Show fact: Mr. Robot’s main character Elliot Anderson (played by actor Rami Malek) has dissociative identity disorder. The character works as a cyber-security engineer by day, and a vigilante hacker by night.

, previously known as KarnivART, is a unique art exhibition hosted annually by genU. Works are submitted by artists who identify as living with disability or a lived experience of mental illness from across the Geelong region. Congratulations to all the submitting artists and award recipients.




Mermaids and dolphins are looking after the blue sea. The ocean has its bed covered with lots of rainbow shells, rocks, sea coral. Seaweed has got special ocean power for the mermaids, and the dolphins can swim and jump up and down. The blue ocean sea looks relaxing when the ocean waves comes to life in the day time, and the night time is so calm. The mermaids and dolphins and the rainbow fishes are wearing a special rainbow tail for the mermaids.

And the dolphins are going to love their special rainbow tail – it can glow in the blue sea ocean and has got the best shine to it when they are swimming next to the ocean. Waves can flow in the sunlight and the moonlight can shine and flow with lots of ocean power. It is the best thing when the mermaids and the dolphins jump up and down, with their special rainbow tail that has been covered with lots of rainbow shells.

Casey is a girl on a mission. A keen writer, she produces her regular magazines using desktop publishing programs, which highlight both her content skills and passion for publishing. Working with her friend Mikaela, she is hard at work producing content both in the MyPath classes she attends and also on weekends. When it comes to inspiration, Casey says that she draws on her imagination as the main source. Casey’s magazines are also for sale, and she hopes that she may inspire others with her creative work.


Wontama resident Jenny enjoys both socialising and cooking and can be found most weekends whipping up her famous pumpkin soup. Late last year, Jenny had the idea to host a lunch where she could combine both of her interests. The concept would go above and beyond just having friends over for a meal; it would be a progressive lunch spanning various venues across town. Jenny also decided to turn it into a fundraising affair, raising money for Tara’s Dream house being built in Ocean Grove. Enlisting the help of her house coordinator, an invite on the computer was made and sent out. It was a happy coincidence that the date would fall near her birthday. All house residents were invited, as well as many others: Jenny’s family, parents of other residents, genU staff members (spanning Accommodation Services, Business Enterprises and the Participate program) as well as genU CEO Mike McKinstry and his wife, Caroline. In total, 67 guests attended what was described as a great day and a wonderful lunch. Guests were served a three-course meal, enjoyed at three homes around East Geelong. Entrees were had at McAllister house, the mains at Wontama and dessert at McIntyre. Changing the venues was half the fun, with both walking and driving involved to get to the next course. For more information visit genu.org.au/inclusion/taras-dream

The meals, meticulously planned by Jenny, consisted of two different kinds of soups for entrees, a substantial spread of several casseroles, quiches, and a chicken platter for the main fare, as well as favourites like pies and sausage rolls. Somehow, there was room for dessert (pavlova, a ripple cake and an assortment of slices) and Jenny’s birthday was not forgotten either, and the host receiving a big chocolate cake to mark the occasion. The day was a success in many ways, and $335 was raised towards Tara’s Dream in Ocean Grove. Jenny plans to continue the tradition as an annual event.

Named after Tara McGowan, who tragically passed away in 2016, Tara’s Dream is a genU housing development which will provide much-needed, fully accessible accommodation within the Bellarine region.


A crowd gathered to celebrate the Geelong Awards for People with a Disability, held earlier in the year. A genU and City of Greater Geelong initative, the awards recognised the impressive achievements of people with a disability living in the Geelong region. Four awards were handed out on the night. The winners were Chris Hall, who has fundraised money for Motor Neurone Disease, Dr Melanie Thomson, a medical research scientist and MS patient advocate, Kirrily Hayward, a disability and LGBTIQ advocate as well as peer educator and coresearcher Linda Stokoe. The event doubled as the opening for the 2018 VALiD Having a Say conference.

Find out more about the 2018 winners for the Geelong Awards for People with a Disability. Visit genu.org.au/news/awards-recogniseinspirational-locals/


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REALISE magazine, No. 3