Every Monday morning, Tyler fronts up for work at the Salvos store in Willetton, in Perth’s south, ready for a busy shift involving anything from organising donations to helping out at the register.
The 19-year-old arrives on time, well-groomed and neatly dressed, and works diligently to accomplish the tasks assigned to him. At break he’ll sit in the kitchen for a chat and a cuppa with his co-workers. At the end of his four-hour slot, Tyler says goodbye, hops on his bike and rides back home again, tired but happy to have gained new skills and make a positive difference in his community.
This sort of work experience profoundly benefits NDIS participants like Tyler because it builds up his confidence and develops life skills that will help him transition to work when the time is right.
Support for school leavers
A year ago, Tyler completed his secondary schooling and his mum knew it was time he got support to get ready for all that life has to offer beyond school, including study and work.
She reached out to Ability Action Australia and was put in touch with our NDIS Employment Services Manager, Brian Widiodarmono, who enrolled Tyler in our NDIS School Leaver Employment Support service. This is a fully tailored service that offers participants, their families and their schools holistic support on the pathway from school to employment.
“We work one-on-one with you to create a plan that meets your individual needs, and may include support with time management, travel planning, money handling and budgeting, working in a team, interview skills, résumé preparation, finding work experience opportunities, and more,” Brian says.
Essentially the service helps to build the foundation skills that set you up for job success, as well as helping you work out what employment opportunities are available and right for you.
Tyler’s mum wanted him to spend less time at home and more time out in the community studying and learning social skills. Brian worked with the family to draw up a two-pronged plan that includes studying General Education at TAFE, and volunteering so Tyler can gain valuable work experience.
“There’s maths, writing, reading, transport planning, getting yourself around town, communication – he’s at TAFE three days a week and that’s going very well,” Brian says.
“The emphasis is on bridging learning gaps and developing literacy and numeracy skills in preparation for future study or employment.”
Brian works closely with Tyler on time management so that he is able to get himself up and ready in the mornings, as well as on personal hygiene and grooming. This has been a success, with Tyler now rising early each day, making his lunch, showering and dressing appropriately, and riding his bike to TAFE.
He also knows he needs to keep track of his assessments and prioritise his time to get them completed, and if there is anything he doesn’t understand he knows to communicate with his lecturers about it.
“It’s all about independent living. We say in terms of your independence, less reliance on mum, and more on yourself,” Brian says.
Volunteering at the Salvos
Brian arranged volunteer work for Tyler at his local Salvos store each Monday for four hours and says their training for new volunteers is excellent.
“The Salvos are just fantastic. Everybody does training before they begin and we sit down and support them through that so they are absolutely clear on what’s expected. Then they get a certificate at the end which they feel great about,” he says.
All volunteers complete online training modules, covering things such as health and safety, what to do if you’re unsure, how to be appropriate with people in the work environment, and dealing with customers. The basics are dealt with too, like arriving a little early for your shift, keeping food safe by putting lunch in the fridge, what to do when you get to work, saying hi to everybody, and signing in with the CovidSafe app.
They also get to buddy up with a person who’s been there for a while, shadowing them for a number of shifts. Tyler learnt about what to put on the floor, and what probably won’t sell, and he is always assigned specific tasks so is never standing around wondering what to do next.
When there are breaks, Brian encourages Tyler and other participants to sit in the kitchen and chat, even if they have social anxiety. They are taught that you don’t have to say anything but it is good to be involved in social interactions, regardless of whether you are passive or actively having a chat.
Tyler has now worked at the Salvos for nearly a year and really enjoys his time there.
“I love my work at the Salvos and have learnt many things like helping in a team and working on the register. The Salvos have taught me how to manage my time and complete my tasks and feel good about it. I often get home exhausted but know I have helped out,” Tyler says.
Store Manager Sarah Vallender says they have found Tyler to be a very friendly person who does not hesitate to do any tasks asked of him.
“Tyler is a good worker and team player. He is very well presented, punctual and polite. It is a pleasure to have Tyler on our team as he always has a smile on his face and makes us laugh,” she says.
Bright future ahead
Tyler’s week is full, with TAFE three days a week, volunteering one day a week, and other therapies and outings organised by his family and support coordinator. Tyler’s mum and sister are extremely happy with his progress and are now excited about what the future holds for him.
“Ideally we’ll get him into a paid position once Tyler has more time. This transition to life beyond school doesn’t have to be overwhelming — we can help you and your family prepare for this adjustment,” Brian says.
Ability Action Australia are ready to support you to build your capacity and help you prepare for the transition from school to further education or work, just like Tyler. Call us today on 1800 238 958 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out if you’re eligible for School Leaver Employment Support.