Ben has found the perfect role as a gardener at a local community centre and is thrilled about his prospects.
From Bendigo, Ben, 54, lives with schizophrenia, a complex brain disorder affecting up to 200,000 Australians.
The condition typically causes disruptions to thinking and emotions, a distorted perception of reality and social withdrawal. Thankfully, medications allow people with schizophrenia to lead productive lives.
Although on a disability support pension, Ben was very keen to find a part-time job. He wanted to be working outside in a nursery or as a gardener to improve his mental and physical health.
He approached the Bendigo office of atWork Australia and was paired with Job Coach Pam, who felt outside work would do wonders for Ben’s health.
“Ben was very quiet and lacked confidence and gardening ticks all those boxes for improving social skills, fitness and self-assurance,” she says.
With a clear goal in mind Pam set to work, beginning with a visit to the Kangaroo Flat Community House, where one of atWork Australia’s outreach offices is located.
She talked to the manager there about how keen Ben was and that their garden did need a lot of work.
The manager agreed it would be worthwhile to get their community garden up and running to provide locals with fresh vegetables and herbs.
Ben was interviewed and offered part-time employment for eight hours a week as a gardener, a job he is loving.
“Ben has been a joy to work with and he is so excited about the position,” Pam says.
“He has so many ideas for improvement and I know he’ll achieve his goals and theirs.”
It’s a win-win situation, with the employer saying Ben is working out well and they are “so lucky to have him”.