A smiling Andrew with two female supported colleagues who are also smiling at a warehouse facility packing Rip Curl wetsuits, socks and clothing.

Building independent life via supported employment

Working at genU Business where Andrew’s ‘invisible’ disability is embraced has helped him build an independent life.

“It feels like a place that I’m supposed to be part of – a second home. It’s great to be appreciated,” Andrew said.

Before starting supported employment at genU in 2009, the 46 year-old who lives with Aspergers was becoming increasingly withdrawn. “It was extremely difficult to get him out,” said his mum, Ineke.

“Once he left school, he worked as a carer, but then he became anxious about driving so couldn’t do that work any longer.”

Concerned about his future, Ineke suggested supported employment at Karingal [now genU]. Andrew reluctantly agreed, yet soon realised he could develop his strengths.

“I have an eye for details and for being spot on. This has pretty much been me since I was a little fella…I enjoy anything that involves details and fine motor skills,” he said.

“I can be myself and be my own person. If I have any difficulties, they are understanding that I have a disability…there is a lot of encouragement and support available to me.”

Ineke says that Andrew’s experience with supported employment has helped him develop his skills both at work and in his home life.

“He has become more independent and has blossomed under their guidance because he knows he is supported and can ask the questions,” she said.

“It’s the reassurance he needs to know he is doing the job he is supposed to. It’s quite amazing, people who have known him are blown away by what he does now.”

“I can be myself and be my own person. If I have any difficulties or some problems, they are understanding that I have a disability.”
– Andrew

In his time at genU Business Enterprises, Andrew has done a variety of roles to build skills in different areas. He currently works in warehousing and packaging, as well as at Reception in the Duoro Street office in North Geelong.

“I have been fortunate to learn different skills to branch out,” he said.

“One day of my week is spent sitting at the reception area of Douro Street so front of house which is another plus. It means a lot to me as the managers and supervisor trust what I do and how I approach people.”

“The first day… I was pretty much a person who arrived and wouldn’t have approached people or chatted to them, whereas now, I have turned [changed] for the better.”

Ineke continues to witness Andrew’s confidence grow as he becomes more independent.

“As time has gone on, it has been amazing seeing him get to do different things, pushing himself out of his safety zones,” Ineke said.

“Andrew has more confidence in himself and is able to speak out. It has given him independence and a sense of purpose. He has complete control over his finances and the decision that he makes. In the past, I would make those decisions for him.”

“genU provides such a cross section of work opportunities for different levels of disabilities…they do it so well.”

If you live with disability and are wondering what’s next, supported employment is a great way to get into the workforce.

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