Luke

Luke working at Kmart talking to a walkie talkie.

I live in Karratha and work at Kmart. I’m a door greeter at Kmart, and I work within security as well. I sit right up the front, I’m the first person people see at Kmart when they come in.

My job is to welcome people and make sure they’re happy with their experience at Kmart. And I also love to make sure that people are safe. I make sure that they sanitize their hands when they go through and also, I remind them to sign their name at the door and use the COVID app with the QR code. It can get extremely busy.

When people leave the store, I check their receipts to make sure that they have paid. Most people do the right thing, but sometimes people forget and that’s why my job is so important, to make sure that people do the right thing.

If the alarm goes off when people are walking out, I go “excuse me, can I have a look at your receipt?” And if they don’t have a receipt, I send them back to the cashier to ask for another receipt. I have to be on the ball, and I’m always firm but fair, while still keeping calm and relaxed.  It takes a great deal of self-awareness to keep that balance within. And I’ve learnt how to deal with all kinds of people.

I’ve been working there for 11 years now. I’d love to be working extra days at Kmart. Then when I do have a family, as a father I can earn just a little bit more money so I can provide for my children.

In the future, I’d love to be able to study to get my security licence, so that I can become an actual security guard.

I’m extremely fit, and every week I build up my strength and do weights at the gym, and I also regularly train in boxing and stick fighting. Keeping fit and building those skills helps me to stay focussed and calm which is very important for my job, and of course the future work that I want to do within security.

I like working and I like my job because I love to communicate with people and keep people safe.

Hayden

Hayden standing next to a small plane

My name’s Hayden. I’m twenty years old. I work at Farmer’s Centre in Esperance. I also run a Youtube channel, and I’m working towards a career in aviation.

Farmers Centre has been running for generations. They sell and service farm machinery. I’m a detailer, which is getting new or used farm machinery ready for the show yard or delivery.  I blow it down with a heavy diesel air compressor to get rid of all the plant matter, making sure there’s no weeds or foreign seeds that go onto another farm for bio security reasons. My specialty is polishing and interior cleaning. The skills I’m picking up is safety, an eye for detail, working to deadlines, risk management and team work. This job has really improved my life. It’s made me independent, and even better, it’s funding my next career move.

Flying is a big deal in my life. I’ve been exposed to it since quite a young age. As the pilot in command, you decide when and where to go. It just feels so free and liberating. And I like the solitude. The only people who can hear you are the other pilots or air traffic control.

Before every flight I have to do a pre-flight check.  I have to make sure that there’s nothing that can affect the safety of the aircraft. Safety is one of the major factors in aviation, and I’ve been trained to take it very very seriously. I’m good at focusing for long periods of time and keeping the aircraft under control. In fact, in one instance I recovered faster than my instructor did, and I landed an aircraft when the electrics failed.

Right now, I have my recreational pilot’s certificate and I’m working towards my recreational pilot’s licence and private pilot’s licence. I want to fly for Qantas or the Royal Flying Doctor Service, because I like helping people, and I want to do something for the community.

From what I’ve heard there’s not a lot of people on the spectrum who actually fly. On my Youtube channel I want to challenge that and show that people with autism are more than capable of becoming pilots.

I want to keep on flying no matter what.

Brooke

Brroke in the rec centre

I’m Brooke, I live in Margaret River. Margaret River is a lovely town, and all the people are really friendly.  I work at the Rec Centre. I’m also an artist, and I work at Drift Café, I’m the waitress.

My family run the café. I love working with my family. I like to talk to the customers, and I am good at making them feel comfortable. If they feel welcome, they will come back. It is really important and it’s good for business to be nice.

My art is on the walls at the café. I love doing painting. I like to draw my family and my favourite tv shows and animals. I use acrylics and water paints. I sell my art at  exhibitions. I want my art to be a business. It’s really important to me. And it makes me money.

I love to work at the Rec Centre with my friends and my job is helping customers check in at the pool or gym. And I make coffee for the customers. In the gym, it is my job to keep it clean. I also do the pool testing. It is important to make it safe.  I work with Tegan and Chris. We’re always laughing. They’re also good fun. The Rec Centre is really cool. It is a really important job for me, I really love it.

I like different. I love having three jobs, it is really interesting. I love my life.

Nigel

Nigel smiling at camera

I’m Nigel Tremain and I work at RUAH doing mental health support.

One of the key things for me in supporting people is sitting down and listening to them, what they want, what they want to achieve. Then I connect them with the people who can help them achieve those goals. I’ve been told that I have an ability to see where a person is at, and I’m not intrusive.

The main thing you need in this job is compassion. Compassion I think is something that comes from within.  I treat people with respect, value them for who they are and that usually ends up with a connection with them. People respond to knowing someone is genuinely interested and cares.

Going through what I’ve been through helps me connect with them too.

I wasn’t diagnosed with autism till I was 55. Before my burn out, and then diagnosis, I used to be a nurse for around 20 years. I loved it.  Nursing combined my liking of people with science. I liked being in contact with people and helping them get well. I was what they call a generalist. I put my hand to just about everything.

When I was getting well again, I was studying community services and youthwork. With the support of my supervisor, I went and saw a psychiatrist and was diagnosed. It actually confirmed a lot of things that were happening in my life .

I have never been able to land a job by interview. Every time I went for a job, they wanted to do formal interviews and a lot of them were very complex, and it made it very difficult to convey what  I knew. It doesn’t say autism on my CV, but with the job I have now, I was open with my employer. I did a work trial, and they could see my ability.

That held true in my previous career in nursing too. I’d offer my services as a casual worker and very soon after that I’d be employed.

People with disability have got so much to offer and they know themselves.

I’d like to see employers offering people different ways to show their skills and talents, like a work trial or casual employment, rather than just by interview.

When I get up in the morning I want to go to work because what I do is valued. I see myself doing this work as long as I can.

Sandy

Sandy working in her studio

My name is Sandy Dann, I live here in Broome. I’m a Nyul Nyul woman. My family is from just south of Beagle Bay, which is where our country is on the Dampier peninsula. My early life was pretty much a day to day existence, being part of a vibrant generous community.

I spent most of my childhood in Perth, in Princess Margaret Hospital. I had congenital rubella.  I was given opportunities long before others, because of these constant visits. It was a different window to look in, about how life was outside Broome.

I was always interested in media, especially growing up. As a kid with bandages on for a number of months in hospital, it was often a lonely time and I ‘spose the only friend you had was the radio, other than the nurses sitting down and reading books. Radio just complemented with painting those pictures and giving that taste of what was possible.

My dream was always to get a kind of life that we saw on television, in movies, in books. Not to be glamorous, but to have some sense of ownership.

It was through trying to find a radio cadetship that I found the position to go over to the Aboriginal Islander Dance Theatre School in Sydney.  It was learning how to dance, but not just to dance, to do lots of things. Getting a weekend job at Pier 1 was probably the best thing I did. It was a way of earning extra money on the weekend. It was through being a tour guide through an Indigenous Culture Centre there that I was able to gain skills with the art of being able to talk to people, share stories.   I stayed about a year.

Radio was by fluke. I was originally the cleaner here, and it was only through a broadcaster being on air and me being in the studio, cleaning, when he had a guest in, and having a conversation with that guest, was what landed me the job. I didn’t realise he was recording that conversation. I tell you what, I learnt quick and fast, feeling like I was chucked into it. I was able to just face those fears and pull that off.

My show is a magazine style program that goes to air every day of the week for two hours. Usually with the first hour,  it’s getting people settled into work or sitting back with a cup of tea. The second hour is about big picture issues with interviews that link back to communities. It’s been a privilege over the years to talk to some of the people I’ve spoken to.

Goolari Media has had a major impact into the way indigenous stories are delivered, especially having to preserve those stories. It’s the reason why we’re being set up across the country. We’ve arrived as Aboriginal people. We’ve grown. We’re in charge of our autonomy. So, it’s just a matter of being able to embrace and walk together with everybody else.

The best thing I bring to my job I feel is just a collection of voices from the community. I’ve got a coloured world even though my eyesight is limited.

Ross

Ross looking with a straight face down the camera

My name is Ross.  I’m a support worker, artist, graphic designer and photographer in Bunbury in the south west of Western Australia.

I didn’t realise I had manic depression, as it was called then, till I was 21. I’d always been either a highly motivated extravert or a very shut down quiet person in school. During my art degree I had a lot of issues with depression.

Through my life I’ve gone through so many periods of being successful and then losing everything. And then restarting.  I didn’t want to go back to office work as a graphic artist.

I enjoy being a support worker and I’m good at it. When I first started, I was volunteering in a sailing program with people with disabilities. I was then employed as a support worker, worked for a couple of years, had a few health issues, quit, and came back to do it again.

Support work is the perfect job. I’m my own boss. And I find it a privilege because people are letting you into their life.

I’m trying to read people on a different level, to find out how they communicate. I think that’s a lot of it, you’ve got to let them open up first. First thing I’m looking for is common ground so there’s a trust, a space where both of you can meet together. Then we work out their interests and how we can spend our time.

Being an artist, I’m quite good with my hands and fixing things and it works with a lot of people, doing something creative. First thing I noticed with one person was that he had a pile of scrap metal out of the front of his house, and his shed was full of tools. There was a washing machine that he’d picked up off the road. Each week we were recycling metal at the scrap yard, and we finally got to the washing machine. I saw the stainless steel barrel and said have you ever thought of making firepits? And he was really excited about that and so we started making them.

I think the best thing I bring to the people I support is the resources I draw from my own life. I’ve had the experience of being in the care of someone else. And I know how I want to be treated: Having your needs understood, not being judged and supported to live the life you aspire to.  Which is what I’m doing now.

To see the people I support do so well makes me look back at myself and levels me out.  I’ve found my place in the community.

 

Ross also runs a weekly Art for Inclusion group which is opening at the Bunbury Regional Art Gallery on Friday, July 23. Event Details  

Claire

Claire smiling with a packet of her pet treats in hand

My name is Claire, I live in Busselton in the south west of Western Australia and my business is called Claire’s Pet Treats. I love dogs so much. And they love my treats.

My treats are made of chicken and kangaroo and ox liver. I make them in my dehydrators. It’s definitely good for puppies as well as adults. Good for their bones and healthy.

The first step is to cut up all the meat and put them on the trays and put them in the dehydrators. It takes hours through the night. It becomes crunchy just like chips in a packet, like dog chips.

The next step is, weigh them. And then I package them up and tie them with my coloured ribbons, stickers.

I sell my pet treats at the Busselton Foreshore Markets every Sunday. I’ve been in the markets for the last four years. My stall is pink because it’s my favourite all time colour. I have soft toys at my stall, dogs and children love them. I have a giant stuffed dog named Charlie, he’s my mascot. I have free treats for the dogs. Sometimes they bark or jump up and down and I can tell they’re so excited to see my treats. My treats are used for training dogs. It’s fun to see them do tricks.

My store is very popular and  the last Sunday markets I was sold out. My business is doing very well. I really want my business to grow.

I love what I do. I’m the boss of my business. It’s a good feeling.

Isaac

Isaac smiling at camera

My name is Isaac Emiliani.

I work at Short Stay, BASSA.

Good people, good place.

I make the beds.

I sweep the floor.

I clean the windows.

I clean the mirror and the walls.

I like mopping the meal room.

I like to help in the laundry.

I work hard.

I bring fun to work.

I like Short Stay.

Good job, fun work.

Kaitlin

Kailtin in the Library smiling holding a book.

I’m Kaitlin and I work at the Geraldton Regional Library. I’ve been here for 15 years, and it’s different every day.

It’s awesome to work here with books, cause it’s got all different genres. And I’m a big reader and I love getting out lots of books every single week.

I love working at the front desk cause it’s fun, just meeting new people and helping them find what they want. We check out the books so people can take them out, and afterwards they bring them back and we scan the book back in and put them on the trolley to be shelved.

I like shelving, cause I put all the books away into the right alphabetical order and make it nice and neat and tidy, so people can see where the books are, and they can find them.

I also do book displays in the junior section. I get told what the theme is, and I go through and find books that go with the theme. For example, we do like Saint Patrick’s Day or Australia Day, Christmas or Easter.

With the display, it’s quite fun for the kids so they can learn what the theme is and sometimes we have a big one, which is like an author that comes in and they get to read out their books.

I’ve been reading since I was little. I like all different kinds of stories. I like reading classic books like Charles Dickens or Jane Austen, books that are out of my comfort zone. And I like mixing it up a bit with magical worlds and fantasy worlds.

I love reading a lot. It grows my mind. That’s how I started to get into writing.

I usually like to write poems. I like writing cause its relaxing and time just disappears. I can imagine myself being in a book.

In the future, I would like to do some more training. I would like to work with computers, cause I have good IT skills.

I would like to work at the front desk more and do a bit of customer service out there.  And I would like to help people get books out by using the computer.

The library runs the Randolph Stow Writing Festival and The Big Sky Festival and I’d like to be involved in that, to get to know the authors and also help out. I have a creative mind and I would like to use that.

The library is a really friendly place, and it welcomes new members. I like encouraging people to become members because you can check out all the latest books and magazines and explore all different ideas. And that’s what I do as well.

Devin

Devin out doing a delivery

My name is Devin O’Sullivan. My business is called Devin’s Handy Office Help. We’ve been going for over five years now.

I try to make people’s day a bit easier. I deliver coffee and food. People text their drink orders to my phone.

I pick up shopping, newspapers and lunch for people who find it hard to get out.

Travis and I go to pick up the orders at a few places around town.

We are also happy to pick up keep cups because recycling is important.

I go to lots of schools with coffee orders for staff. Castletown Primary is a regular customer of mine.

I also pick up the newspaper every day and take it to Chris Harris’ Dental Surgery, with a coffee.

I do mail deliveries at Swan’s Vet. I save them having to drop off and collect their mail.

There aren’t a lot of delivery services in Esperance and people love it.

The best things about working are hanging out with Travis, seeing lots of people, visiting lots of places.

So many people know me now and I feel great ‘cos I’m helping people.

Kaleb

Kaleb sitting in his studio smiling

My name’s Kaleb.  And I am a music producer and also a mix engineer.

My studio is called Imocean Studio. It’s about my two loves, music and the ocean.

And it’s a play on words because there’s always emotion in music.

I’ve always loved music. I listen to a whole range, it really depends what mood I’m in, but I produce whatever comes through my door.

I’ve done reggae, some blues, indie Rock, country and even some heavy metal. It depends on what the client wants.

I try to keep the vibe of my studio really relaxed because that helps people open up more. I let the artist be themselves first. I let them perform the way that they wanna perform it. And that’s key. And if there’s any issues, I’ll tell them. And together we become a team. And that’s when the magic can happen.

And every single person I work with I learn from.

What I love about mixing is, seeing it come together, hearing a song go from okay to really clear to tight.

That moment when people hear their songs done for the first time, when people come back to pick up their mix. It’s pretty special. That smile on their face says it all.

It’s important because I like feeling like I’ve done my job right. I’ve helped people reach their dreams.

I really love teaching people and sharing knowledge. I have an assistant who helps me with the hands on. And at times, I will mentor them to help them reach their potential.

There’s a quote that says, “I don’t need easy, I just need possible”. It’s pretty much me in a nutshell.

I love what I do, making music and having a laugh and meeting people. This is the best job.

Suraya

Michelle at her work, wearing thr fluro uniform

My name’s Suraya. My business is Sunray’s flowers and craft.

I love flowers very much. I take flowers to the cafes. I take flowers every week. This is what I do.

I take my flowers to Yardbyrd. It’s a cool place. I take my flowers to Blue Ginger Café. Paul is at the Hairy Marron. Paul is my favourite customer.

I take invoices to the cafes. They pay me. It’s my business.

I like making beautiful things.

My mum has a beautiful garden. I snip flowers at Mum’s house. I pick petals for the paper. I iron the petals on the paper. I glue the paper around the vase. I make pretty vases.

I’ve been doing my flowers for four years.

My flowers make people happy. Flowers make me happy.

I love my business.

Michelle

Michelle at her work, wearing thr fluro uniform

I’m an Admin and Lab Assistant.  I work at Tronox, Koombana Bay Bunbury.  It’s near the Port, right opposite the Dolphin Discovery Centre.

I’ve been working at Tronox for nineteen years. I’m coming up to my twenty years in March.

Tronox mines different minerals and then sorts them out. The minerals get used for sunscreen, cool drink cans, make up and toothpaste.

I’ve got lots of jobs.  The biggest part of my job is recycling the bags.  The bags come from the geologists who test the sand from the mine site.

I get the sample bags from the wheelbarrow and I tip the sand into the kipple.  We have to shake all the loose sand off just in case they don’t get the sand out. You gotta make sure there’s no holes and no missing tags. And then once the washing machine’s finished, we repeat the cycle again, so they come out perfect.

The bags are the biggest part of my job because I think it’s very important to recycle, so they don’t end up in landfill. And then the mine site people have got fresh new bags. So, they don’t have to keep buying bags.

I’m a hard worker. When it’s really busy I work through morning tea. I like to get the job done so I know it’s finished.

Safety is very important, so people don’t get injured. I always do the SAM thing: Spot the hazard, Assess the risk and Make the changes.

I always work safe. I’ve got my PPE. I’ve got my steel capped boots. I’ve got my gloves. I’ve got my safety glasses. My safety record is very good.  Over nineteen twenty years, I’ve never had an accident.

Tronox is a great place to work.  The people here are friendly, and I get along with everybody. I chat to people and have a laugh sometimes.

I really enjoy working here. I wanna keep working here as long as I can, so I can earn money, so I can go places.

I feel very happy and very proud working here for so long.  I started the recycling process 19 years ago. I’ve really made a difference and I’m very proud about it, cause it helps the environment, it doesn’t end up in landfill and it won’t kill the wildlife.

Ethan

Ethan in the studio, wearing his Fremantle Dockers guernsey.

I’ve got all my family here in Fitzroy, grew up here all my life. Fitzroy Crossing is a lovely town, you’ve got the river and the gorge. It’s not a big town but it’s a place you can get around.

I used to work in the station, riding horses, mustering cattle and branding bulls. I was the youngest bloke there. Hard work!

I also played football for the Yakanarra Dockers.  I used to be in the forward line. I used to be like Stephen Hill or Michael Walters.

After my accident, I told them I don’t wanna sit doing nothing. I wanna do something. The Manager at Wangki Radio Station said, Ethan do you want a job?  I said, yeah okay, I would love a job.

The best thing of my life is my job. I’ve had it for six or seven years now. I play mixed Rock ‘n Roll, Country, Indigenous music, pop, all mixed. I play local music like Fitzroy Express and The Now Or Never Boys. I sang with them before I had my accident. When I sing it makes me feel good in myself.

I sing for the old people at the hostel where I live, and I play good music for them and they sing with me, it keeps them entertained. They always put the radio on, and they call for requests. I play requests for all the people round town.

When I’m playing my music at the radio station, I feel like I’m at home.  I’m thinking about people round town, my little brothers, my little sisters.

The radio is a good thing for the people outside if they’re listening in. People like music cos it gives them hope.

At the end of my show, I feel proud of myself. People think I’m a star, but I always tell them, I’m not a star, I’m just Ethan.

People in this town can hear my voice from here to Erskine, to Halls Creek, all around this Fitzroy valley.

I’m the voice in the valley.

This project is a partnership of

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The Lives We Lead Worklife has been funded by the Department of Communities, Disability Services.
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