A Geelong company that bent over backwards to employ, train and communicate with a deaf worker has been hailed as a national employment hero
Fuso Geelong, in partnership with MatchWorks, has been named the winner of the inaugural Innovation in Disability –
Team Award at the prestigious NESA National Employment Awards for Excellence at a gala dinner held in Melbourne recently.
NESA (National Employment Services Association) is the peak body for the Australian employment and related services industry.
When 19-year-old deaf job seeker Chris Linahan went to MatchWorks Geelong to help him realise his dream of becoming a diesel mechanic, this employment services provider realised that they needed a custom approach.
To make their task more challenging Chris does not lip read, solely communicating via AUSLAN. MatchWorks’ answer was to form a special team to make Chris’ dream come true.
They then turned to Fuso Geelong Dealer Principal, Richard Furnari.
A philanthropist through and through, Richard embraced the challenge.
He has since provided AUSLAN training for Chris’ workmates, made workshop modifications so Chris does not have to hear vehicles moving to be safe, and launched a world-first app called eCheck which allows Chris to complete jobs and communicate with customers.
Chris now services and test drives trucks, communicates freely and has accepted Fuso Geelong’s offer for an apprenticeship.
The eCheck app is proving popular. “We developed the software ourselves and we’re rolling it out to fleet companies, other local workshops, and also to the Victorian government to service their front-line fire response units, including all fire trucks,” Furnari says.
“From humble beginnings, this app has the potential to assist businesses across the globe employ more deaf people.”
Host of the awards, National Employment Services Association (NESA) CEO, Sally Sinclair, adds: “This award is a great tribute to Fuso Geelong and MatchWorks, and shows how employers can totally change people’s lives and improve opportunities for people with a disability when they invest the time to create truly inclusive workplaces.
“The employment and related services industry in Australia is all about helping people into sustained employment, and these awards truly acknowledge the direct and lasting impact that employment service providers like MatchWorks have on people’s lives.”
Fuso’s Richard Furnari (right) with employee Chris Linahan and Assistant Minister for Social Services and Disability Services Jane Prentice Minister (left) and NESA CEO Sally Sinclair (right)