For the past four years, Geelong Golf Club have partnered with Leisure Networks to provide work experience opportunities for young school leavers living with disability.
“It opens them to different ideas and having some confidence in themselves – understanding what they can and can’t do,” explains Paul Christie, Venue Manager at Geelong Golf Club. “That’s a little role that we play, Leisure Networks are obviously the big player in this. We’re just here to be a part of it and with young kids like Jackson, it’s good to see.”
When Paul recounts stories of his teammate Jackson, the hairs on the back of his arms stand up, he’s so proud of what Jackson has achieved since he started doing work experience at Geelong Golf Club a year ago.
“It’s been an incredible story,” says Paul. “He’s very passionate and each week, week by week, he has got more confident. Then about five months ago I sat down with his Leisure Networks Employment Coach about giving him an opportunity to get into paid employment.
“For us,” says Paul, “it’s about giving him an opportunity. This is what he does now. He’s earned the right to be employed, he’s educated himself enough to do things on his own and for us, he now becomes a part of the team – we love having him here.”
When Jackson first started at the club his main role was washing down the golf carts, then he built up the confidence to start driving the carts. Now his favourite thing to do at work is drive the range picker and collect balls. It has even given him the confidence to get his “Ls” and start learning to drive, a level of independence he would never have dreamed of before he started working at the golf club.
Jackson enjoys working outdoors at his own pace. His job at Geelong Golf Club gives him the autonomy to work hard, with purpose, knowing that he is contributing to the team and making the business run smoothly.
“When we get Jackson through another six-months, and he’s in more of a role, simply employed by us, then we can start someone in his footsteps, and he can help that person and guide them through. That gives him some more leadership.”
To anyone who wants to get involved in providing employment opportunities for people living with disability, Paul believes “it is a fulfilling experience.”
He sums it up: “It’s good. I like it. I enjoy it. More people should get on board.”