First-of-its-kind skills hub launched

by Brett Henebery24 May 2017
One not-for-profit organisation, Fighting Chance, has launched a new skilling hub to provide a range of opportunities for Australians with disability

The new work hub will create 20 opportunities per day for Australians with disability to engage in meaningful work experience, training, and vocational participation.

The announcement follows a $13,540 funding grant from the Honda Foundation, which will provide a bathroom hoist, an adult change table and a defibrillator for a brand new work hub in Botany, South Sydney.

Co-founded in 2011 by Laura O’Reilly and her brother Jordan, Fighting Chance enriches the lives of young adults with disabilities in Australia through employment pathways and training opportunities.

Currently, it supports over 140 people with disability from the Northern Beaches area.

O’Reilly, told L&D Professional that the severely disabled have been “completely forgotten” in the push to upskill Australians.

“What happens when people with disabilities leave school is that there are two pathways that open up. One pathway is into employment, but this is targeted towards people with mild and moderate disabilities,” she said.

“The other pathway is what’s called community participation. Society thinks of these two things as separate in the respect that these people either can work or they can’t, and in the latter case they must to community participation.”

O’Reilly explained that the idea for the program was inspired by her brother Shane, who had a profound physical disability and a moderate intellectual disability.

“He was a complex, interesting, funny and talented young man with a lot of computer skills, and he had tons to contribute,” she said.

However, O’Reilly said that his attempts to go into the workforce were shunned as “society felt he had nothing to contribute”.

“It’s costing the taxpayer more than $40,000 per person per year for these people to sit and do nothing.”

And this is not just an Australian problem, O’Reilly pointed out.

“This is happening all around the world. People need to understand that everybody has something to contribute and can be skilled.

“In my experience, I’ve not yet met one person – irrespective of how profound their disability is – who does not want to contribute and doesn’t have some skills that cannot be harnessed by society.”

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