Ararat's Tyson Ballinger is one of 19 people Villa Maria Catholic Homes has helped find meaningful employment through the last year as part of its unique employment pathways program.
Figures show just 54% of people with disability are in the labour force, compared to 84% without disability according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
VMCH's unique employment pathways program aims to support with a disability to learn job-ready skills in hospitality, horticulture and retail, with the target to find and sustain meaningful open employment for 100 people by 2025.
Mr Ballinger, aged 28, works with VCMH's Green Team, which sees three gardening crews across Melbourne and regional Victoria deliver commercial gardening and maintenance services to VMCH home care clients.
"I have found it to be really good and enjoyable, and love all aspects so far, especially mowing and whipper snipping," said Mr Ballinger.
"We are always working on new tasks. I do feel more confident in myself since starting."
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Green Team coordinator Josh Dorn said Mr Ballinger's enthusiasm for his job is growing, and he's about to increase his working hours.
"It's great to see it evolve and I am excited by the prospect of it growing into a positive part of Ararat's community," said Mr Dorn.
"I enjoy working with clients like Tyson and helping them gain skills and confidence in themselves."
VMCH general manager disability services Daniel Carter said having the skills and confidence to work in a job that brings meaning and pays a fair wage is a life-changing opportunity.
"For many of our clients, these are opportunities that simply have not previously existed," said Mr Carter.
"And for some who have been able to find a job, the complexity of staying in the job has been overwhelming."
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Over the next year, VMCH hopes to raise its training hours by 20% across its social enterprise cafes, op shops and horticulture programs to help double the number of people transitioning from training to employment.
"Of course, not everyone wants to be a barista, maintenance officer or retail worker," said Mr Carter.
"So, to help people explore jobs in other industries we partner with businesses such as the YMCA, Veolia, Ventia and governments who are both committed to the benefits of a diverse workforce, and in need of staff to fill critical skills gaps.
"By normalising the employment of people with disability in a range of roles and industries we reduce the anxiety of businesses to embrace the opportunity for the more than 1.1 million Australians with a disability to find a meaningful job."
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