JOB SECURITY and skills development have been locked in for disabled Yarra Ranges residents, following a $150,000 funding announcement last week.
Casey MP Tony Smith announced on Wednesday, 26 August that Lilydale’s Wesley Fire and Clay, which employs people with disabilities across the Yarra Ranges, would receive a $150,000 grant from the Federal Government.
He said the funding came as part of a $1.8 million funding commitment to Wesley Mission Victoria’s Australian Disability Enterprises (ADEs), which spans three years.
The $150,000 funding will support Fire and Clay to develop a new business model and aims to support the ADEs as employees with disabilities transition to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
Wesley Mission’s Manager of Community Options, Disability Services, Sue Gannon, said that funding grants such as the one announced were “critical” in giving people with disabilities employment that furthered their skills.
“It’s really critical, the grant that we are getting,” Ms Gannon said.
“This support from the government is going to allow us to build a sustainable business model for Fire and Clay.
“Moving forward, there’s the security that there’s always going to be a place, especially within this community, for people with disabilities to find meaningful employment to enhance their skills, so they have more opportunities within the community.”
She said the 40 supported workers at the business were consulted when designing new products, and that creative flair was encouraged – particularly when it came to decorating the building’s interior, which now features murals designed and painted by employees.
Mr Smith said the announcement of the grant was a “testament” to the business, which provides pottery and ceramics for businesses and residents in the area.
“The competition for these sorts of grants is pretty fierce, and the success is because they’re doing such a good job here,” he said.
He said his involvement with Fire and Clay went back for years, and brought along a hand-made Carlton Football Club mug sent to him by the business after visiting and being asked what his favourite team was.
“I did have a couple of cups of coffee out of it, but, as you can see, it’s a large coffee cup,” he said.
“It has pride-of-place on my bookshelf, behind my desk.”
Before he left, Mr Smith, who recently was elected as Speaker of the House of Representatives, was asked for an autograph by one of the workers – and happily obliged.
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