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Shire of Gnowangerup job is driving force for cleaner

Photo of Ryan Kitching, a cleaner at the Shire of Gnowangerup.Through the Lighthouse Project initiative, local government authorities are being supported and encouraged to increase employment of people with disability. Ryan Kitching’s story highlights the benefits of hiring a person with disability.

Ryan Kitching looks forward to getting his driver’s licence so he can take on more tasks in his role as a cleaner at the Shire of Gnowangerup.

Ryan, 35, who has a learning disability, began working at the Shire almost two years ago and has been enjoying the independence that comes with having a job.

“I’m renting my own unit. Also, for now, I have to walk everywhere but once I get my driver’s licence, I can get out and about more,” Ryan said.

With support from Disability Employment Services (DES) provider Great Southern Personnel, Ryan initially secured a job as a school gardener for six months. He went on to work as a gardener for the Shire, and then moved to a cleaning position.

“When one of the Shire cleaners left, I took the opportunity to take over that job,” Ryan said.

“I like working at the Shire. There is nothing I dislike. I get on with the job and my supervisor is wonderful. He is very clear about what he wants me to do and corrects me if I make any mistakes.

“I prepare the bins for pick-up, I clean the barbecues at the park and the toilets. It’s a good job and I wish I could work more hours.”

Ryan’s first job as a gardener was funded from a State Government scheme to help people with disability find work.

His supervisor John Skinner said the scheme’s financial assistance was an incentive for potential local government employers to find work for people with disability.

John encouraged people with disability to keep trying, and not get discouraged, either while trying to find employment or when they were actually in the role.

Employers should also consider whether the person’s disability would affect their ability to do the job and if it did not, or there was a work around, then to give the person a fair go, he said.

Ryan’s initial employment was funded as part of a State Government-funded scheme to help employ people with disability, but now he is directly employed by the Shire.

“We wish we had the finances to offer Ryan more hours but we just can’t afford it,” John said.

John said Ryan was an ideal employee who carried out most of his work independently.

“I have no trouble supervising Ryan,” John said.

“I just make sure I allow enough time for him to complete the task as he may need a bit more time to think about the requirement and understand it.

“But once I explain the job and make sure he’s understood what I need, I usually only need to tell him once and he gets the job done.

“He’s been in the job for one year and knows his job very well.

“Ryan sometimes comes up with ideas about things he would like to do and we discuss them and see how they can be implemented.

“I’m hoping he will get his driver’s licence soon. This will enable him to do a lot more work.”

Ryan said being out and about in the community helped him to enjoy life more, and this would also be the same for other people with disability.

He suggested that people with disability talk to an employment consultant at a DES provider: “They can help you find a job,” he said.