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Town of Victoria Park customer service officer gives top service

Photo of Bodie Huts, a customer service officer in the Town of Victoria Park.Through the Lighthouse Project initiative, local government authorities are being supported and encouraged to increase employment of people with disability. Bodie Huts’ story highlights the benefits of hiring a person with disability.

Bodie Huts wears many hats – by day he is a customer service officer at the Town of Victoria Park’s LeisureLife and AquaLife and by night, he is an aspiring singer/songwriter/DJ.

He has auditioned for the X-Factor TV show, performed at events to thousands at the Burswood Theatre, and dreams of working as a radio announcer or a full-time singer/songwriter.

Bodie has cerebral palsy that affects the right side of his body and reduces his ability to use his right hand and right foot.

When he gets tired or stressed, the direction of his left eye is affected.

This sometimes causes issues but is usually not a problem with regular customers.

“I have now learnt which customers are ready to chat and which customers, particularly at AquaLife, just want to come in, have a swim and just leave,” Bodie said.

“In this job, I love the freedom to be me, to play jokes and have a bit of fun, but knuckle down and get the job done when I need to.”

Bodie’s supervisor Paul Fulara said the Town is reaping benefits from having Bodie as an employee.

“If we were to hire any person with disability today, we would apply the learnings from our experience, make sure we clearly specify the tasks required for a particular role and discuss and agree upfront the staff member’s abilities to perform each task,” Paul said.

“This understanding would help separate performance issues from physical or intellectual disability challenges.”

Disability Employment Services (DES) provider EDGE Employment Solutions helped Bodie find a job with the Town in 2006.

After a trial period, Bodie proved he was able to carry out the job and was appointed as a permanent part-time staff member.

“It’s very handy. Getting a job in the best of times when you are able-bodied is hard, and when you’ve got this disability, some people look straight past that while others don’t want to know you,” Bodie said.

Town of Victoria Park Customer Service Team Supervisor Hayden Cooney said local government authorities were ideally suited as employers of people with disability because there were many different roles they could offer that met the person’s physical and intellectual abilities.

“Once you are part of the organisation, local governments tend to be very accommodating,” Hayden said.

Hayden said local government authorities needed to be more specific about the tasks required for a particular role in their job advertisements, so potential employees with disability could decide if they would be able to carry out these tasks.

He said if a person with disability was selected for a position, the Town would work with them to ensure the work environment met their needs.

Both Paul and Hayden said DES providers such as EDGE helped employers understand issues that were related to performance or the employee’s attitude. They also said DES providers were helpful in providing recommendations about access for the employees.

In Bodie’s case, EDGE recommended that the Town supply him with a phone headset and a wireless mouse to help him carry out his tasks more efficiently.

“Our experience with Bodie has taught us that employing people with disability is not so hard, and the Town is certainly very open to it and we have had an inclusion policy for a while,” Paul said.

Bodie loves his job: “It pays the bills, is a good environment, has good people and it leaves me enough time to pursue my music and the radio as I only work 20 hours a week.”

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