Born on Victoria’s surfcoast, Ghanda Clothing is faithful to a grassroots philosophy that flows through their workplace culture as much as through their design and manufacturing. When the brand brought its sticker production back on shore about six months ago, it opened up a fun work experience opportunity at the South Geelong warehouse. Leisure Networks was ready to get on board, bringing in a small group to work with the Ghanda team producing retail sticker packs. Ghanda clearly demonstrating that they value what people with a disability bring to the workplace.
“It’s great for the company and the people working within the company to see that people living with disability are willing and ready to give work a crack and that they’re just as able as anyone else to do jobs and work within a company,” explained Sam Wallace, Employment Coach at Leisure Networks who supports the group while they are onsite. “It’s a fun, safe and inclusive space. The group enjoy being here. The staff around like having us here and, we’re being as productive as anyone else.”
The first group of Leisure Networks customers started in at Ghanda last December. Since then, two more groups have come on board, filling three short shifts across the week.
“It’s good to see the team getting energised and feeling positive about coming to work experience,” said Sam, “and it’s really nice to be here with them. We get to hangout and work together, listen to music and be productive.”
With funding from the NDIS, Leisure Networks gives people living with disability opportunities to connect into their community while they build capacity and pursue their own goals toward independence.
Sam gave some examples: “Zane has a goal to develop a range of employment skills. It’s been good for him to listen to what we have to do and to focus on a task. And for Thomas, one of his goals was to become more social and to work within a team. In that aspect, he’s doing really well because we get to work within this team framework. They’re working well as a team and they’re really enjoying themselves.”
“We’re all about teamwork around here,” added Chris Naylor, Warehouse/Production Manager at Ghanda. “The Leisure Networks crew have fitted in really well to our team, and helped complement most of the things that we’re doing as far as local production is going.”
“It’s a prerequisite at Ghanda that people need to be open minded and flexible,” Chris continued. “which includes accepting people from all cultures, all countries and all abilities. It really runs parallel to what we’re about – grassroots being our philosophy of how we approach our inhouse production, our other sorts of domestic production and all of the different components that make up Ghanda Clothing. We try to involve as many local businesses and organisations in helping us to grow. The way that we see it is that if we help others to grow, then they’ll help us to grow in turn as well.”
Which gets to the heart of what relationships like this one between Leisure Networks and Ghanda are doing to connect more people to their community in and around the Geelong region.
“Absolutely I’d recommend the Leisure Networks experience to other organsiations and companies,” said Chris. “There’s always excellent feedback from the assistants that are with the crew. As well as about the management team at Leisure Networks, they’ve always been very open and flexible about the nature of the work.”
And the benefits extend beyond the warehouse, as Sam explained: “Outside of this space I’ve noticed that the group are speaking to each other more and listening to each other and we’re doing things as a collective. That’s been one of the successes of working in a space like this.”
“Going forward from here,” said Chris, “I see that we’ll have a long, and probably more expanded relationship with Leisure Networks. Once we start bringing more of our inhouse production back onto the domestic scene then there will be many tasks that I can see that Leisure Networks will help us with in the future.”