It did not take long for Nathan Hoare’s new boss to work out that he had a good employee on his hands when Nathan started working at Glasshaus Nursery, in Richmond.
“I can see that Nathan gets a lot of benefit from being in a beautiful environment and dealing with nature as all of us that work here do, that’s one of the reasons we do it,” Paul Hyland says.
Nathan, 31, lives at Villa Maria Catholic Homes’ (VMCH) Austin Street, Victoria’s first purpose-built residence for 10 young people with an acquired brain injury who may otherwise live in nursing homes. Nathan’s passion is horticulture and one of his goals since arriving at Austin Street has been finding paid employment.
Paul, who owns Glasshaus Nursery, in Swan Street, admits that there is another reason Nathan has the boss’ approval.
“It helps that he’s got an infectious personality and he happens to barrack for the same footy team as I do, so it all works out well. He comes in pots plants and we have a bit of a joke about the footy.”
Austin Street Manager, Jo Herbert, says before Nathan’s accident, where he fell from a two-storey building, he was a plumber’s apprentice.
“One of the things he missed was the mateship with his co-workers. So he loves that now,” she said.
With support and thanks to Nathan’s can-do attitude, he has been able to achieve something that is out of reach for many people with disability – a job.
About 50 per cent of people with a disability are employed compared to 83 per cent of the general population. One of the major goals of the NDIS is to assist people with disability who want to work to have the resources and support to do that.
Love your work
Increased employment participation of 370,000 Australians with a disability by 2050 is expected to lead to an additional $50 billion in the Australian economy. That is why NDIS advocates say it is not only a socially responsible policy – it pays for itself.
For Nathan, the journey to his goal started with Austin Street staff and other supporters fundraising more than $20,000 for Nathan to purchase a standing wheelchair that would allow him to stand up to work in his garden, sell his plants at local markets and interact with customers face-to-face when talking to them.
His VMCH support team also worked closely with Nathan to help him set up his own business selling his plants at community markets on weekends. His occupational therapist contacted nurseries in the local area asking them to consider Nathan for a job until one day she found the suitable place for him at Glasshaus Nursery. A VMCH support worker accompanies him to the shift that usually lasts for two hours.
His boss, Paul, says bringing Nathan on board has been a good experience and he would encourage other employers to make their workplaces more inclusive.
“We enjoy having him around and I’m glad that he enjoys it too,” Paul says.
“It’s really good for staff members here as well. When you see somebody who has had an accident like Nathan’s had and they can still have such a positive outlook on life, it’s pretty inspirational.”
VMCH provides vocational, social and community activities at four community hubs in Croydon, Kew, Mount Waverley and Wantirna.
Learn more by calling 1800 798 921 or email.
(Photo) Nathan’s passion blooms into a job … Nathan Hoare is pictured with Audrey Quealy (from Glasshaus Nursery) and VMCH disability support worker, Simon Barry.