After a life-threatening injury and more than 360 job applications, Charles thrives in his trade
When asked what brings Tasmanian tradesman Charles the most joy, he says he’s happiest when getting stuck into a task that involves using his hands.
With words like ‘dedicated’, ‘hardworking’ and ‘persistent’ used to describe him, Charles outlines his love for an honest living and climbing up the ranks in his respective line of work. From obtaining his heavy machinery licence, to gaining experience logging and working with steel cuttings, any trade which involves manual labour has seen Charles either obtain a licence for it, or work in the relevant field.
A humble man with a loving family, Charles had been a dedicated tradesman for more than 30 years, until one day, things took a sudden turn. What he thought would be a normal day at work, turned into a traumatic incident which left him paralysed from the neck down.
During a 14-hour shift assisting with heavy vehicle management, Charles fell five metres, falling suddenly to the ground. Not realising the extent of the damage, he carried on with his work and saw out the rest of his shift, unsuspecting of the long term damage caused.
“I knew something was wrong once I arrived home and realised I couldn’t move my body to get out of the truck. It was such a surreal and terrifying experience,” Charles said.
After six months of consultations with a number of doctors and numerous scans, Charles discovered he had incurred a C-spine injury, with broken bones in multiple places across his body, including his neck. Due to surgery delays to fix the extensive injuries, Charles’ spinal cord was unfortunately severed. Something that would have defeated most people, the severe injuries made Charles more motivated than ever to defy the odds and get back on his feet. Miraculously, he gained 70% of his mobility back.
“It took 16 months of intense rehab to be able to walk again, but I felt immense determination to give my all to my recovery. So much so that some nurses wouldn’t want to come near me in fear that I might injure myself even more!” Charles said.
“Throughout my rehabilitation process, I remember coming across a WISE promotional stand one day whilst grocery shopping. The representatives made me feel incredibly comfortable from the get go. I was very transparent with my injuries, but it was obvious that nothing would have deterred WISE from helping me land a job.”
Prior to connecting with WISE, Charles had applied for over 360 jobs across more than two years, persisting with applications across an array of industries.
“Charles first came to WISE in 2019. He told us he’d been actively applying for work, but that he’d not been asked to attend any interviews. Despite his manual dexterity and mobility limitations, I’ve never quite come across someone as determined as Charles,” said his WISE Employment Consultant, Jodie.
Understanding a lot of his efforts were dedicated towards regaining mobility of his body, Jodie supported Charles by alleviating the pressures associated with the job application process. This included updating his resume, approaching employers to organise interviews and investigating the process of obtaining relevant licences to re-operate heavy machinery.
“Given Charles is a ‘Jack of all trades’, once we had his resume in a good place and he was feeling confident after a number of interview preparations, we marketed his CV to more than 200 employers within our database. And it wasn’t long until we put him in touch with wholesale supplier Extreme Agencies.”
Jodie was successful in helping Charles regain his forklift licence, ready for his first day as a manual labourer – exactly one year after he discovered WISE.
“It’s great working for a company that allows me to be so transparent with my injuries and has been nothing but supportive. I never have to feel like a burden if I need to leave early to head over to my medical appointments,” Charles said.
Working within the logistics and storage division, Charles is in charge of picking and packing orders for major companies across the country, and is now able utilise his forklift licence to once again do what he loves most.
“Watching Charles regain stable employment, while achieving financial stability and independence has been really empowering to see and I’m glad I was able to be a part of his journey,” Jodie said.
“Recovering from my injury and regaining mobility in my body was a big hurdle for me, but getting back into the workforce was also another huge challenge that loomed over my head. I’m so thankful for Jodie and WISE as it’s now taken a lot of pressure off my wife to be the sole breadwinner. We now get the spare time to see my family without any worries burdening us,” Charles said.
To this day, Charles and Jodie still catch up over the phone on a fortnightly basis, to check in on how he’s progressing.