A Western Australian energy provider has partnered with National Disability Services’ (NDS) BuyAbility program to provide more employment opportunities for people with disability.
Western Power has joined forces with global real estate and facilities management service provider BGIS to deliver the program over the next 18 months, in what is the first contract penned between BuyAbility and the global organisation.
The contract will engage up to 70 people with disability at eight Western Power depot sites in the Perth metropolitan area, including Prinsep Road, Power Training Services, Hope Road, Kewdale, Forrestfield, Balcatta, East Perth Control and Mt Claremont, with employees “undertaking ground maintenance duties including mowing, fertilising and irrigation management of the grounds”.
BuyAbility is an initiative of NDS aimed at growing supported employment through the “promotion, connection and management of socially responsible procurement opportunities for disability enterprises”, which acts as a link to help people with disability gain training and experience to pursue or continue in open employment.
While the Western Power contract has only just started, there are other BuyAbility programs that have shown great success for people with disability.
For Susy, having Down syndrome did not deter her from following her dreams. When she was offered supported employment at disability service provider House with No Steps (HWNS), her self-confidence increased, leading her to complete her Certificate III in Process Manufacturing and being named Employee of the Year at HWNS.
“My job means the world to me. I love coming here every day. Everyone is my friend,” she says.
Josh has also shown significant improvements since beginning his job at Merriwa Industries in 2013. He currently works two days a week in Packaging and two days at their Day Services program at Park Lane Nursery, looking after birds and gardening.
Disability Support Officer Eril Edwards says Josh “is more actively engaged in his work and is very capable of taking on new tasks. It’s great to see him improve and enjoy his work in Packaging and at Park Lane”.
General Manager for Enterprises at NDS, Helen Bouropoulos, says opportunities through BuyAbility offer people with disability a pathway for further training and employment opportunities and “highlights the ability of the person rather than the perceived limitations or inability of the individual”.
Western Australia State Manager for NDS, Julie Waylen, says “the relationship [between Western Power, NDS and BGIS] demonstrates that people with disability can do high quality work in an industry, such as power, where occupational health and safety is a very high priority”.
“Currently there are more than 20,000 supported employees throughout Australia; of which nearly 2,100 come from Western Australia. The supported employment sector alone delivers a significant social and economic impact to Australia,” says Ms Bouropoulos.
The Western Power contract is expected to generate a net economic benefit of $593,727.30.
Disability enterprises through BuyAbility generate a net economic benefit of $743 billion per year, with over 1,500 people with disability engaged in BuyAbility contracts since 2011.
Executive Manager Business and Customer Service at Western Power, Tamara Brooker, says they are committed to creating equal employment opportunities and “removing any barriers that could prevent people from seeking to work with us”.
President and Managing Director APAC at BGIS, Jon McCormick, adds, “Western Power is leading the power industry in Western Australia by implementing BuyAbility across its eight facilities.”
“We are proud to announce that Western Power is our first client to engage in the program.”
For more information on disability support and services, please visit DisabilitySupportGuide.com.au