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Taking the next step

Thursday, 6th April, 2017

(From left) Zac Tester, Eric Degoumois, James Howe, Daniel O’Neill and Eric Tumes are out in the world of study and work and loving it. (From left) Zac Tester, Eric Degoumois, James Howe, Daniel O’Neill and Eric Tumes are out in the world of study and work and loving it.

By Craig Brealey

Eric Degoumois would like nothing more than a job working on cars or motorcycles but he also loves taking photographs. If Eric could combine all three then he would be a very happy young man indeed.

Eighteen-year-old Eric is working towards that aim with five of his mates from high school who have ambitions of their own.

Each finished school last year and is enrolled in the local Life Without Barriers’ ‘Transition to Work’ program for Year 12 school leavers with a disability.

“They are all from Willyama High School and they are doing an awesome job,” said Debbie Files, the Senior Disability Support Worker who runs the program.

“The school needs to be congratulated.

“Now we’ve two years to get these guys job-ready,” Debbie said.

It all begins with a trip to the fire brigade and police station and then the young fellows do 18 hours a week of structured training.

Most of them are attending TAFE where they are doing automotive, horticulture, electronics, welding, and computer studies. In between they do work experience.

“The Broken Hill Golf Club has given us great support by offering horticulture work. The Lifeline Shop is also involved and we are looking for other businesses that might like to help provide skillsets for the lads.

“Eric has an interest in photography but his main goal is to work with cars or motorbikes. We would love to get Eric some work experience in a car yard or auto shop.

“Young people with disabilities often don’t have the same opportunities to build that natural support with friends and workmates but with this program they are going to TAFE, the library, the Lifeline shop...

“They are all young adults and they want to get out there. Once they do, they thrive and we have had very good feedback about the change this program has brought to their lives.”

But things are about to change and Eric and his friends will be the last to join Transition to Work at Life Without Barriers.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) will come to Broken Hill in the middle of this year and that means no more block funding for the program.

Debbie said she hoped the NDIS would offer something similar for school leavers with a disability and that it might involve Life without Barriers which has been helping people with a disability in Broken Hill for nearly 10 years.

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