Intellectual disability no setback to Melissa finding a job she loves at Millicent Museum

Intellectual disability no setback to Melissa finding a job she loves at Millicent Museum, with help from WISE Employment Mount Gambier

Melissa has changed the working landscape of Millicent Museum with her hardworking attitude and tireless enthusiasm.

Described as ‘always happy and with a firm handshake’, Melissa has found her personality to be welcomed and truly appreciated by all of her team.

Having an intellectual disability hasn’t stopped Melissa’s efforts to find a great career. Before connecting with WISE Employment Mount Gambier, she was finding it hard to secure regular work that was both challenging and engaging. Employer Liaison Officer, Belinda, turned it all around when she initiated the relationship with the local museum.

“I’d been doing cleaning work and that was good but I really wanted something where I could learn more every day. My family and friends had been a good support but I needed some extra help and Belinda gave me that.”

The Collingwood supporter has become an integral part of the Museum crew. Her main responsibilities include keeping the workshop in top condition and being a daily support to the wider team across a broad range of tasks and projects.

“I’ve been making a fence for the machinery shed. I’ve learned how to weld, cut wood and use machinery and tools like drills, hammers and saws. The guys have been great. When I didn’t know how to do something, one of them would show me and ask if I wanted to have a go. They’re very special to me.”

Supervisor and Chairman of Millicent National Trust, Barry, had been in contact with WISE Employment and was so trusting of that relationship that he was prepared to offer Melissa a paid position.

“Before knowing Belinda, I’d never hired someone with a disability, but she’d invested a lot of time and expertise in helping our organisation to grow and so when she suggested Melissa, I trusted in her to have a go. I was apprehensive at first because there’s a lot of men working out here and I wasn’t sure how Melissa would work with them but when I saw how her attitude just fitted with all the guys, I knew it was the right decision.”

“I think a lot of employers can be very judgemental and not take a chance on others with a disability, but if you don’t give it a go, you’ll never know how good it could be,” says Barry.

Barry says that Melissa’s positive influence has been a standout quality, and her willingness to see through tasks, learn things quickly, and take anything on, has meant that team members have really taken her under their wing.

“When she arrives each day, she’s so happy, and when you’ve got a lot of long-term unemployed workers, it really changes the whole atmosphere. It shows everyone that you can be really happy about the simple things in life – you’ve got food on the table, a place to sleep at night and a place to come to work – it really changes their mindset.”

As for Melissa’s future, she’s choosing to fully focus on the now saying that she’s got her hands full keeping Barry from eating too many biscuits and wrangling the guys to stay on task.

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