Laura reaps benefits of The Integrated Practical Placement Program – a joint collaboration by The Royal Children’s Hospital, Holmesglen Institute and WISE Employment

Laura reaps benefits of The Integrated Practical Placement Program – a joint collaboration with The Royal Children’s Hospital, Holmesglen Institute and WISE EmploymentIn 2019 The Royal Children’s Hospital, Holmesglen and WISE Employment teamed up to deliver The Integrated Practical Placement Program – a unique program for young students living with a disability.

Designed to provide students studying a Certificate 1 in Work Education at Holmesglen with real workplace experience, the program helps transition students into the workplace by offering full-time work placements at the hospital, whilst then being supported on the job by WISE.

Through these placements students learn work-based skills and build their confidence, giving them the head start they need to find employment.

This incredible initiative has been recognised at this 2019’s Victorian Training Awards, taking home the Industry Collaboration Award in recognition of the benefits the partnerships have been able to deliver to participating students.

Program Coordinator Jan, the pioneer behind the program, observed a similar model in London where students who participated in an internship had an 80 per cent success rate of gaining employment. This success rate inspired Jan to set up the Australian program, giving ten Victorian students the opportunity to gain work experience during their studies, to ultimately help them secure a job.

WISE Employment is proud to play a crucial part in supporting the students, providing the service of an employment coach throughout the IPPP course year and on an ongoing basis to help ensure that each graduating student transitions into a workplace and role that is suited to them.

WISE Disability Employment Specialist and Coach, Kym, has worked on the program over the past two years, supporting both cohorts to not only transition each student into employment, but to also ensure that they feel supported in their role – touching base with them and their employer regularly and assisting where necessary.

From last year’s cohort, four students have secured employment at The Royal Children’s Hospital, one with precinct partner Spotless Services, two at Holmesglen, one as a Library Assistant in the Holmesglen Library Learning Commons and one is undertaking a paid traineeship with Holmesglen gardening team.

Other students have found employment at The Pullman Albert Park and The Accor Group, while the remainder have chosen to return to their studies.

Laura, who experiences learning difficulties, participated in the 2018 program and is thriving in her current role at the Royal Children’s Hospital Early Learning Centre with help from WISE Employment Coach, Kym.

As a ‘born nurturer’ Laura says working in an adult environment has allowed her to feel empowered.

“This new role has given me great confidence and has reduced previous doubts I had in my abilities,” she said.

“I’ve always enjoyed helping others and felt destined to work in early childhood education. Being greeted by smiling faces each day makes me extremely happy and with support from my colleagues I feel I achieve a level of success each and every day.”

Laura found studying a Certificate 1 in Work Education at Holmesglen provided the structure she needed to help her become ‘work ready’. With support from Jan and the WISE team, Laura found the reassurance she needed to complete the program and enter the workforce.

“Jan would sit down with us each morning, and help us with any question we had. We’d then have another check-in in the afternoon, which gave us time to discuss any issues, challenges or success we experienced throughout the day. As I struggle with anxiety, it was extremely comforting to know that Jan was there to help and guide me through when needed.

“WISE’s support throughout the process was extremely beneficial too and helped equip me with strategies to deal with my studies whilst also allowing me to achieve my goal of gaining employment in the work place.”

Laura’s Manager, Delwyn, says that Laura’s passion and enthusiasm has been a great addition to the team.

“Prior to hiring Laura we’d never hired someone with a disability; however, we couldn’t be happier with Laura’s performance to date as well as WISE’s constant support and communication throughout the process.”

Delwyn has found that a common misconception is that an employee with an intellectual disability may be less enthusiastic in their role, lack knowledge, or not have the confidence to communicate – she says that none of this is the case with Laura.

“Having the right support in place has given Laura the ability to thrive within her role. This program is one of the most successful initiatives I’ve ever been part of and we’re thrilled to have Laura as part of our team.”

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