Athena was always told that permanent, regular employment was probably unachievable. Her disabilities presenting too much of a barrier. She had a wealth of volunteering and work experience but never had the support to turn that experience into paid employment. Just before Athena’s 37th birthday, this all changed when Athena connected with FSG Australia (FSG) and met Victoria, Coordinator for FSG Projects.
After getting to know Athena, Victoria recognised that she was interested in working in people-centric environments and so suggested she enrol in a Skilling Queenslanders for Work Project in SIT20213 Certificate II in Hospitality run by FSG. Victoria believed Athena would excel in this type of career. Her warm and friendly personality would be an asset to any hospitality organisation.
Athena enrolled into the course knowing there was additional assistance available when she needed it. A staff member from the FSG Learning and Development Centre attends the classes to help support the student. “I was in the classroom for Athena to draw guidance from, when needed, which gave her the best possible opportunity to successfully achieve her qualification. We made minor adaptations to the training to assist with her requirements,” explains Victoria.
Soon after completing her studies, Athena worked with FSG’s Employment Advisor, Kellee, to secure work experience. This was a vital step for Athena, as it gave her the opportunity to build her confidence in her new chosen career path.
“Athena had the knowledge, the qualification and that warm, beautiful smile. She just needed to build her confidence and believe in herself. Throughout her work placement, we stayed actively involved to ensure she felt that reassurance and appreciation,” says Kellee.
Work experience completed, meant Kellee and Athena could set down the path to secure a paid position. “During those few weeks Kellee and I were job hunting, I was extremely nervous and was kind of hoping that we wouldn’t find one! … but Kellee builds you up when she talks to you and keeps reinforcing things you’ve learnt in your training,” explains Athena.
Bingo! Athena now calls San Churro café her employer and has done so for the past six months. For the first time, Athena had choices. She had options.
“The success of first few weeks are crucial for the new employee and the employer. We maintain regular contact with them both to keep confidence levels high and reassure them that they can do this! Usually within a couple of weeks the new recruit has a whole new level of confidence and self-worth. It’s amazing to watch them blossom and that’s best part about what I do.”
Athena shares her feelings. “I hated it in the beginning because I didn’t back myself. Speaking to Kellee regularly while I was at work and having her constantly reassure me, helped me hang in there. That, and the staff at San Churro have been so amazing. I really can’t say how much that helped me, working in a place where everyone is so welcoming and on your team!” smiles Athena.
Athena works eight hours every week and is enjoying a regular income. “I love the feeling of earning my own money. I’m saving for a cruise in a few months for my birthday and also for one over New Year! Mum and I love going on cruises and now that I’m working, we can afford to go more often!”
When asked what the future holds, Athena doesn’t want to overcomplicate things but certainly has had the motivational fire lit under her. “The next step is to make myself a more valuable person to employ. I’m going to do my Responsible Service of Alcohol certificate so I can hopefully get another hospitality job. Bartenders get paid more!” she chuckles.
 Skilling Queenslanders for Work Projects are funded and supported by the Queensland Government.
FSG IS A NDIS REGISTERED SERVICE PROVIDER
Contact our NDIS Team to find out more information on 07 5564 0655 or [email protected]