Supported Employment to Open Employment

19th June, 2024

Training, Promotion and Open Employment at Barkuma Commercial Services

At Barkuma, we believe in the power of inclusive communities where everyone can contribute meaningfully. Our mission extends beyond supporting individuals with disabilities; we also work closely with businesses to create diverse and inclusive workplaces. Barkuma Commercial Services, with over 50 years of experience, exemplifies our commitment by offering quality-driven solutions while supporting employment opportunities for over 150 people with disabilities. Our clients’ stories – Chloe, Matt, Graham and Adrian – highlight the transformative pathways available at Barkuma.

Chloe’s Journey: From Trainee to Peer Supervisor

Chloe’s story is a testament to growth and leadership within Barkuma Commercial Services. Starting as a trainee, Chloe now excels as a peer supervisor at our Holden Hill facility. Her role involves training new staff, ensuring quality control, and fostering a collaborative environment. Chloe reflects on her journey:

“I started with work experience and then joined full-time. The training program taught me a lot, and I’ve made lots of friends. As a peer supervisor, I love having extra training and helping others. The fire safety training was really fun.”

As a member of Barkuma Voice, Chloe also participates in conferences and committees, amplifying her voice and advocating for her peers. She enjoys the supportive and friendly atmosphere at Barkuma, which extends beyond work into social activities and friendships.

Matt’s Transition: From Factory Floor to Open Employment

Matt’s valuable skills and can-do attitude have seen him transition from supported employment to open employment. Initially working on various tasks at Barkuma, including wheelbarrow assembly and forklift operations, Matt gained valuable certifications that have led Matt to join a landscaping team.

“I started in February 2020, working on different projects and earning my forklift license. Recently, I started working for a landscaping team with the support of my Barkuma job coordinator, Gregor. He helps me with Centrelink, my reports, and learning my new job”

Matt now enjoys the flexibility and independence of his new role, maintaining gardens at Hungry Jack’s sites. His story emphasises the importance of ongoing support from Barkuma in achieving sustainable open employment.

Gregor, a Barkuma job coordinator, explains the process for finding the best fit:

“We begin by understanding what our clients might enjoy and where their strengths lie. We then reach out to our network of employers or find work experience opportunities that align with their interests and skills. Whether they excel in hands-on tasks or more creative roles, we tailor our approach to each individual. Our goal is to identify a role that they will both enjoy and excel in. Once we find the right fit, we set them up for success by providing the necessary support and resources to thrive in their new position.”

Graham and Adrian: Building Skills and Fostering Growth

Graham and Adrian, peer workers at Barkuma’s Elizabeth location, exemplify dedication and skill development. Graham, a peer worker who has been with Barkuma for 14 years, leads the wheelbarrow assembly for Bunnings stores. He shares:

“Us peers normally get told we’ve got a new person starting before. We make them feel comfortable. Just keep a general eye, make them feel welcome, just try and get them included in what’s going on around them. If they have any problems, we help them by having a one-on-one chat.”

Adrian, who works in gardening and lawn maintenance, also started his journey through a school referral. He highlights the diverse opportunities at Barkuma:

“It was actually my school teacher. He knew a guy knew another guy and put me forward to this mob. He knew that I liked timber and back then he pushed me through to get to this job where he is now. And I’m really happy.”

“I was 16 and I, came in for an interview and the boss turned around and said, well when can you start? And I said, mate, I can start tomorrow if you want. He goes done.”

Adrian‘s team has worked on various projects, including a large-scale irrigation installation at a hospital.

Both Graham and Adrian stress the importance of trying different roles and pursuing what interests them.

Adrian advised, “I would say just give it a go. You never know what you might achieve. You get a lot of skills out of it.”

Pathways to Success at Barkuma

Barkuma Commercial Services offers a range of pathways to training, promotion, and open employment. Our two state-of-the-art facilities support various industries, providing tasks like filling, weighing, sorting, packaging and more. Through customised training programs, peer support and dedicated job coordinators, we ensure our clients are equipped to succeed.

Chloe, Matt, Graham, and Adrian’s stories illustrate the empowering environment at Barkuma. Their journeys from trainees to skilled workers and peer supervisors highlight the potential for personal and professional growth. Whether you’re an employer looking to hire dedicated workers or an individual seeking meaningful employment, Barkuma Commercial Services is here to support and guide you.