In 2022, Barkuma launched the Peer Supervisor Program, a disability employment program that provides employees with further opportunities to build on their leadership skills, contribute to their team and working environment, and reach their employment goals.
Established under a new staffing model, a team of 15 employees from Barkuma’s Australian Disability Enterprise based at Holden Hill and Elizabeth, have undertaken this unique opportunity.
The participants underwent an interview process and were selected based on their leadership skills, positive workplace peer relationships, ability to demonstrate tasks and organise work, and their understanding of Barkuma’s Code of Conduct policy and safety awareness. With a view to upskilling all applicants, unsuccessful applicants were also invited to complete the Peer Supervisor training. Through further developing their skills and confidence, these participants are preparing for future opportunities.
The disability employment program aligns with Barkuma’s commitment to ensure people with disability have equal opportunity to learn, grow and contribute to their working environment and community, and to be recognised for the significant value they bring to the workplace. The program aims to upskill and develop individuals’ leadership qualities, provide pathways towards open employment, and support better financial and personal outcomes.
One of the successful Peer Supervisor candidates, Chloe, has enjoyed learning new skills under the program and helping others, “I like learning how to do all the different jobs and I love helping people … we all get along, we’re all friends here.”
Her colleague and fellow program participant, Graham, is approaching twelve years with Barkuma. He agrees about the workplace camaraderie and feels well supported by the supervisors. Graham appreciates the opportunity to work with computers and gain further safety skills, “I’m looking forward to learning the evacuation procedure.” he said.
As part of their development, the Peer Supervisors undertake formal training in first aid, fire warden and optional forklift training. The Peer Supervisors support work experience placements, and provide additional emotional and work-related support to new and existing staff.
Cherie Jolly is Barkuma’s Executive Manager of Employment Programs and Outcomes. She is proud that the new program supports development of skills that will strengthen pathways to open employment, and encourages employees who enjoy their work and love helping others.
Cherie explains the support and encouragement given by Production Supervisors acknowledging existing skills and supporting applicants gave the Peer Supervisors the confidence to step up and have a go, which is great to see.”
“You can see a lift in them. There’s a lot of pride.” Another positive outcome is the impact of the Peer Supervisors’ significant pay rise.
“We’ve seen indicators of the difference that a higher wage has made,“ said Cherie. “This has been illustrated best by the stories we hear of weekends away, activities and plans, along with the sense of pride that is evident when asked about the new roles and training being undertaken.” Cherie adds that the Peer Supervisor program makes “aspirations much more tangible.” The future looks bright for the Peer Supervisors.
Comprehensive employment programs for people with disability lay a solid foundation, equipping participants for further opportunities within Barkuma’s Australian Disability Enterprise, moving into open employment, or a combination of both.
If you are interested in applying to work at Barkuma’s Australian Disability Enterprise, or coming on a tour of the factories, get in touch on 8414 7100, email email@example.com, or visit www.barkuma.com.au/ade.
If you are interested in working at Barkuma, or exploring employment outcomes, please call us on 8414 7100.