From volunteer to vocation: Jamie’s full circle moment

31 January 2024

From volunteer to vocation: Jamie’s full circle moment

Jamie accessed employment services supports through CoAct service partner Ability Options.

Anyone familiar with Bellingen Golf Club is familiar with Club All Rounder Jamie who works with the club crew to clean golf carts and keep them fuelled up and in great shape for customers.

An incredible volunteer

Living with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Jamie accessed employment services supports through CoAct service partner Ability Options. This opened the door to social activities and then work experience opportunities after graduating Year 12.

Work experience led Jamie to volunteering at the Golf Club, where he began as a volunteer in late 2020 after his team aligned his love of trains, metal detecting, and all things motorised, with the opportunity to catch the bus to work in the club’s workshop with their golf carts.

Jamie’s mum Lorraine shared that he, has always loved trains – it has been a life-long fascination for him and our garage is full of model trains. Even the local newsagent knows to save a copy of the Hornby Train magazine for him each month.

Jamie at work

From volunteering to finding his vocation

Once Jamie settled into volunteering he was soon ready to make his role there a more permanent fixture.

After connecting with CoAct service partner Ability Options (Jamie’s local Disability Employment services provider) the team worked together with Club Manager Mike MacGraw to support Jamie into paid employment under the Supported Wage System.

The Supported Wage System is a collaborative agreement between employers and people with disability that facilitates employers paying wages to a person with disability based on how productive they are in their job. The goal is to build on their capacity to work, based on assessment that also determines their rate of pay.

Working with people with disability

Jamie’s manager Mike has worked in the hospitality industry for many years, but never with a person with disability on the team.

“After all the natural disasters and the pandemic, one of the hardest parts of running the Club has been finding staff who want to work” says Mike.

“We didn’t realise the types of employment support we could access until Jamie and his team approached us. Jamie was keen and really wanted to be a part of the Club, so it was great to have help to support him into work.”

Personalised employment support for people with disability

Jamie’s new colleagues, his DES team at Ability Options and a team of NDIS staff collaborated seamlessly to develop a plan for tailored workplace practices.

Step-by-step routines were put in place for Jamie so he could more easily and efficiently complete his tasks for cleaning and maintaining the club’s golf carts. In addition, Jamie also gets to make deliveries and work customer-facing in the club’s public area.

This framework and well thought out schedule has empowered Jamie to get more confident in his new workplace and build on his skills to the point that he’s now thriving in his new role.

“Jamie is very detail orientated,” says his mum, “so understanding how he thinks helps: if you want something done, give him the detail and the specifics and he’s good to go.”

Jamie’s DES team at Ability Options also arrange for tools, uniform, and workplace equipment (for the golf cart workshop) to make his workplace in the mechanic bay more accessible.

Six months into his on-the-job coaching Jamie ‘graduated’ to open employment and the club increased its fleet of golf carts so he and the crew are busier than ever in the workshop.

With the team’s support he’s earned his RSA too so now he can work in the club’s bar area.

A hole in one on and off the course

“It’s not just the work where we see Jamie developing” says Mike.

“We’re seeing a big change as he joins in with the rest of us. He’s a real larrikin, so to see his personality come out and watch him interacting with the team is terrific.”

According to Jamie his favourite part of his new job is his lunch and these days you’ll find him working at Bellingen Golf Club twice a week and also busy volunteering at the Frank Partridge Museum.

His Ability Options team say he’s loving life. “enjoying Thursday family dinner, a spot of golf and some solid negotiation with mum to move his model trains into the house.”

How CoAct can help you

Jamie’s story is an authentic example of how Disability Employment Services and employers can work together to help customers prepare for – find – and keep a job they genuinely enjoy.

CoAct service partner Ability Options is proud to support employers who are committed to building workforces that reflect our local communities, creating opportunities for people with disability to positively contribute to workplaces as they do so.

Register here today if you would like to find out more about how CoAct and our service partners in your local area can provide dedicated job search support, jobseeker programs to help you reach employment goals, and ongoing support when you’re employed.

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