Transition Program Graduate Experiences at Barkuma

9th April, 2024

Barkuma’s Transition Program is designed to help students with disabilities and learning difficulties to transition smoothly from school to the next phase of their lives. The program is delivered over a 12 months and provides graduates with access to a range of employment pathways, including School Leaver Employment Supports (SLES) and Disability Employment Services (DES). These pathways are aimed at supporting a seamless transition into employment. We caught up with program graduates Siomonn, Will and Belle, to see where they are now.

Where are they now?

Siomonn – Class of 2021

Siomonn discovered his passion for hospitality through Barkuma’s Transition Program, completing a Cert II in Kitchen operations. Following graduation, he started working at the Coles Bakery Hub in Kilburn in mid-2022, with the support of Barkuma’s Disability Employment Service (DES).

Siomonn has been doing an excellent job since then and has proven himself to be a fast worker and a keen learner. He has been trained in multiple roles and currently works between 14-20 hours per week. Siomonn’s main tasks are:

  1. Rack up – reading the order sheet and putting the baked goods on the shelves.
  2. Cookies – packing cookies into plastic containers and labelling them.
  3. Flat Bread – cooking flat bread, putting them in plastic bags and labelling them.

Siomonn has weekly meetings with his DES key worker before his shift. Together, they are working towards Siomonn’s goal to work in a kitchen whilst maintaining his job at Coles. He is looking for kitchen hand catering jobs and hopes to manage the two jobs and rosters with support from Barkuma’s DES.

Outside of work, Siomonn attends Empowering Futures in Salisbury and enjoys watching movies and playing football. Siomonn loves working at Coles and often arrives early before his shift. He has great relationships with his employer and co-workers who see him as a reliable and outstanding employee.


Belle – Class of 2022

My name is Belle Sutherland, I’m 19 years old and this is my Barkuma story. I attended Barkuma’s Transition Program in 2022, the year I graduated high school. I’ll be honest and say I learnt so much from Barkuma and I’m forever thankful for the experience. I learnt about getting out of my comfort zone and trying new things that the younger me would never have done, I made many new friendships that I value. Sometimes the unexpected friendships turn out to be the best ones which is a fact by the way!

Best Experience

Anyway, one of the best highlights from Barkuma was my Barkuma teacher, Glenn, he made every week more exciting and always had the best jokes to cheer us up if we weren’t ourselves or just his company in general made me get up every Thursday morning, hop on that tram and go learn! I highly recommend doing the Transition Program no matter your anxieties or nerves.

I experienced the best support I have ever received, made lifelong best friends and still have close relationships with the leaders/mentors at Barkuma to this day, which is crazy to think about! You won’t regret doing it. I connected with Barkuma’s SLES in 2023. While I already had a casual job delivering catalogues 2 days a week, I wanted to work on job searching.

Katie, my SLES case manager supported me a lot and helped me get some work experience near my house at a local childcare centre. I learnt a lot from SLES but the main thing I learnt was don’t be afraid to ask for help, it’s okay to need help, we all do, and you’re allowed to speak up, use your voice if you’re comfortable or ask someone to help.

After doing some work experience in the ELC at Woodcroft College, I finally came to the conclusion that working with kids has always been my passion.

That’s when I decided I’m going to need some extra support finding a job in childcare. I didn’t have any qualifications besides my working with children check, so I reached out to my case manager to see if Barkuma could help.


I had one setback, I didn’t want to go to Uni like my friends since that would be too challenging. My case manager recommended a traineeship which meant I could work with children and study towards the qualification Certificate 3 In Early Childhood Education and Care which sounded good to me.

I was nervous as anyone would be, but worked on gaining my qualifications, Through My Eyes, First Aid and an updated Children’s Check. My dad came with me to Through My Eyes and my DES key worker came with me to my First Aid to ease my anxiety which helped a lot.

Job interview

I had an interview with Little Shining Stars at Wayville and was offered a traineeship, conveniently near my home in October last year. Whilst it has been challenging it is also very rewarding. I have also now started studying Certificate 3 in Early Childhood Education and Care. In July 2025, I will be fully qualified as a Childcare Worker! I have also recently become one of the Kindy Room Educators.

I have had amazing support from Barkuma and I have built good relationships with my co-workers. If you are considering Barkuma for support, I would highly recommend all they have to offer to help you find your future pathway.

Will – Class of 2022

Will is standin amongst bookshelves in the library where he volunteers.Will completed The Transition Program in 2022 and then connected with Barkuma’s SLES. Since then, he has been on a journey towards achieving his employment goal of working in a library.

Currently, Will volunteers at the Salvo Stores and the Mitcham Library. At the Salvo Stores, Will checks DVDs and CDs for damage, sorts out the good ones, and takes them to be priced. He also looks at cassettes and vinyl albums for sale. Will also volunteers at the Mitcham Library as a “Shelvie”. He returns books to their proper place within the library.

Will has developed many skills and attitudes for work throughout his SLES journey. Will is about to commence his transition to Barkuma DES where he is hopeful of securing his dream job of working within a library.


To enquire about the Transition Program at Barkuma, contact the Transition Program team