HELPING HAND: Jobseeker Robert Moran with his employment consultant Adeane Gornall at the Warilla Jobfind Centre. The centre helps people with a managable disability, injury or health condition find work. Picture: Adam McLean
After a 15-year stint tending to the foreshore of Lake Illawarra, a neck injury left Robert Moran unable to work and without a job.
Mr Moran, from Albion Park Rail, looked after the parks, gardens and jetties dotted along the waterline for his employer, the former Lake Illawarra Authority.
At just 43, he has been “medically retired” for about two-and-a-half years and “looking for any work” he can do. Disc bulges in his neck, which press on a nerve, might have seen his long-term employment come to an unexpected halt, but Mr Moran is determined to work again.
Enter the Jobfind Centre at Warilla, where an employment consultant has been helping him fine-tune his resume and find work.
“It [the medical retirement] has put lots of financial strain on me but, on the positive side of it, I come to these sort of functions and Jobfind is building my spirit up a bit,” he said.
Mr Moran is among a handful of jobseekers being supported by the disability employment services provider; a federal government-funded initiative.
A new Jobfind Centre opened its doors in Warilla on Tuesday; upgraded facilities its chief executive Stirling Hay said would offer better service to customers.
“We wanted to have a more inclusive and welcoming environment, where people feel comfortable to come and share their needs, wants and desires with us,” Mr Hay said.
“Today’s [Tuesday’s] opening represents this first phase of that type of service.”
The centre delivers employment services to people with a managable disability, injury or health condition.
Its reach extends to Wollongong, Dapto, Warrawong and Berkeley. Mr Hay said 40 per cent of the centre’s current caseload was “tracking for employment”.
“Because someone has a disability doesn’t mean they’re any less entitled, it means in fact they’ve often got very special skills that are of benefit to employers,” he said. “Part of our job is to help shine a light on those things and provide those introductions and opportunities.”
The new facility, on Beverley Avenue, is just a couple of doors down the street from where the centre previously operated. Mr Hay said the new centre’s street frontage would make for a “more welcoming” jobseeker experience, with demand for the service already evident.
“We even had somebody turn up unannounced, asking us to help them find a job, as the signwriter was still finishing the sign,” he said.
“It kind of told us, maybe we got it [the new location] right.”