Stanthorpe woman Christie Chandler has been described as an ‘inspiration’ to people with a disability, after five years as a supported employee gave her the skills and confidence to succeed in open employment.
Now a supervisor at Endeavour Foundation’s Stanthorpe Waste Facility, Christie has urged people not to “give up on your dreams when the going gets tough”, noting that perseverance is the key to success.
“I first started working for Endeavour Foundation at the charity’s Wacol site. Back then I was a supported employee and was doing jobs like line assistant and in the front office as customer service assistant.
“I had been there for five years when the carers I was living with at that time made the decision to move to Stanthorpe. It was a big transition, particularly because it meant moving from a food packaging environment into a recycling facility, but it also gave me a load of new skills including learning how to operate a weigh bridge and I got my forklift license,” Christie said.
“After four years at the Endeavour Foundation site in Stanthorpe I started looking at getting work in open employment but, sadly, found local prospects very limited. In one instance I was granted a trial and encouraged to give up my position with Endeavour Foundation but, after a few weeks, they made the decision that I wasn't going to work out and sent me on my way.
“I then spent a year applying for jobs and doing countless interviews. I was supported by the Southern Downs Employment Service and attended their job club, where we would share our experiences. When I got a job interview, we were all excited as a group and, when I didn't get the job, rather than be sad about it, we learned from it.
“During this time I thought to myself, ‘why not study a course in an area that I really enjoy?’ So I started a course in Administration and, with a lot of encouragement from my trainer, successfully completed the diploma.
“It wasn’t immediately plain sailing as, during that time, I applied for a job with Endeavour Foundation in Stanthorpe and didn’t get an interview. That was really disheartening, as were the countless applications and trials that followed. Then another similar position opened up at Endeavour Foundation in Stanthorpe for a Casual Relief Supervisor and, despite my qualms, I was persuaded by my employment service to give it a go.
“By this time I was losing heart and confidence in myself, but I did apply. I was granted an interview and, much to my surprise, I got the job.
“So today I am a staff member with Endeavour Foundation. I have a diploma in Administration and am currently studying for another in Leadership and Management. I absolutely love my job, both because of the people I am lucky enough to meet at the ‘tip shop’ and the supported employees with whom I work – they’re always happy, smiling and fun to be around.
“I hope that my story will encourage other supported employees not to give up on their dreams when the going gets tough. I endured endless knocks but, with support, kept on chipping away until the right opportunity came up.”
To find out more about supported and open employment opportunities with Endeavour Foundation, visit www.endeavour.com.au.