Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

Work's a Human Need

Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

Work's a Human Need

Article excerpt

JUST BECAUSE

MARK COPLAND

"DIFFICULT circumstances make for exceptional people."

The opening line from ABC television's Employable Me sums up my last few weeks.

I've taken some time out from my regular job to don a high vis shirt and lend a hand to Ability Enterprises.

For those of you who don't know, Ability Enterprises is a local social enterprise established in 2012. At least 80 per cent of its employees have a lived experience of mental health diagnosis or experience other barriers to employment.

Employable Me brings to life the excruciating experience of people with a disability trying to find work. Work is such a human need.

"I need a job." "Please let me have a chance." I want to live independently." "I want to contribute to society, I want to be normal."

All of these lines from Employable Me ring true.

None of this is news to Ability Enterprises general manager Bruce Russell.

He tells me of one applicant who had lodged 421 job applications and only three employees had been bothered to send a response.

Sit with that for a moment - 418 times that you have held onto hope and received nothing in return.

We hover around four per cent unemployment in our region but the figure for people with a disability or other barriers to employment would be 10 times that.

Employable Me graphically demonstrates the prejudice against employing people with a disability.

The beautiful thing about Ability Enterprises is that it is a business, not a charity.

It receives no government funding, pays its employees award wages and does a brilliant job.

Its profit is the social dividend of jobs for people with barriers.

When I say brilliant I mean it.

Ability Enterprises manages the 14 gatehouses for waste management facilities across our region.

They're the friendly people who point you in the right direction when you turn up at the tip with a trailer load of your best hedge trimming work. …

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