Hope for Success

Travis Perkin, Keenan Marra, Warracknabeal Secondary College's Hope Dempsey who is doing an SBAT at Woodbine, and Veronica Farrugia.

Warracknabeal year 11 student, Hope Dempsey is celebrating her success which all began with a mock interview at school. During the interview she made a positive first impression on interviewer, Bernie O’Connor.

Woodbine’s CEO Bernie O’Connor commented, “Hope presented well and on time and was clearly taking the interview as a genuine opportunity to learn more of the job seeking process. Towards the end of the interview, my fellow panel member, John Aitken, asked a completely unscripted question of Hope. He asked what three positive learning experiences she could say about her casual work at McDonalds. Immediately, Hope replied along these lines; to dress neatly in uniform to present a positive image, work diligently and never serve food I wouldn’t be prepared to eat myself- There was the next School Based Apprentice.

Woodbine provides a comprehensive range of services and day activities including supported employment, shared supported accommodation, outreach and respite, and recreation and  leisure. The range of day activities includes the popular adventure and discovery program, information technology, communication, commercial catering, plant nursery, craft shop, arts, music, retail clothing shop, opportunity shop and meals on wheels, to nominate a few. All Woodbine services are managed with a genuine philosophy of maximising inclusion and seeking to contribute to the local community.

Bernie explained, “The School Based Apprenticeship is one half of Woodbine’s trainee program. The program involves the nomination by a secondary college of a finishing year 12 student who does not plan to continue on to tertiary studies. This trainee will be supported in real full-time employment for two years whilst they are fully assisted to obtain Certificate IV in Disability. At the same time, comes the nomination of a finishing year 10 student to take up the School Based Apprenticeship. “

School Based Apprenticeships allow young Australians to get a head start with their careers by beginning an apprenticeship while still working towards their senior secondary school certificate. School-based Apprenticeships are a great career option, allowing young Australians to commence training for a vocational qualification and earn a wage while still at school.

Hope said “I love it here. I have two days of on-the-job training and a half a day of working, so it’s 19 hours all-up in a week.” Hope is studying for her Vocational Certificate of Applied Learning at school. “I struggle with classrooms—I always have, but being out in the workplace, I’m learning more than I was at school. It’s a lot more hands-on.” she said.

“I started here in October of 2015 and was thrown in the deep end.” she said. “No two days are the same.” Hope assists clients with daytime activities. “We go out into the community, we go out to Pharmacino and have a coffee and a scone or we’ll go for a walk up the street and get the newspaper. I had my first day in the kitchen last week and today was my first day in music and it was really good.” she said.

Hope has been on steep learning curve. “One of the things I’ve been learning is patience. Some of the clients are a bit slower at completing tasks than others, so you’ve got to be really patient with them and give them time.” she said. Life just keeps getting better for Hope. “A couple of weeks ago I was doing lunchmaking and Bernie, the CEO, called me out and offered me more work!”

Asked if he’d recommend School Based Apprenticeships to other businesses and organisations, Bernie replied, “This program seeks to support a healthy balance of experience and youth at Woodbine. Only a few years ago, there was just one staff member under the age of 30 years. With this measure and its flow-on message, there are now 35 people in the younger age grouping. If you are interested in maintaining a line of youth to match experience and see it as a long term plan, then a is a very workable and extremely rewarding solution. It is not necessarily a solution to address immediate skill deficiencies in your business. For Woodbine, it is a strategy to balance the workforce in a way that is a real support to the community and individual young people whilst enhancing the perception of people with a disability.”