Pro­ject ready for next phase

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News - BY DEAN LAW­SON

Au­nique part­ner­ship in­volv­ing a Wim­mera dis­abil­ity-ser­vice provider and two Hor­sham schools is set to en­ter its next phase with pro­ject lead­ers keen to start in­volv­ing stu­dents in the pro­gram this year.

War­rackn­abeal’s Wood­bine has es­tab­lished a base in Hor­sham Col­lege’s two-storey build­ing as well as work­ing at Hor­sham Spe­cial School as part of an ex­pan­sion of ser­vices.

It is now ready to in­tro­duce stu­dents from the schools to the world of dis­abil­ity-ser­vice pro­vi­sion.

Wood­bine chief executive Bernie O’con­nor said an ini­tial stage of the pro­ject had been to es­tab­lish and con­sol­i­date a Wood­bine pres­ence in Hor­sham.

“The ini­tial aim was to get in and get set­tled and now we’re set up at both schools, the next aim is to in­volve the stu­dents,” he said.

“I’m want­ing to get it hap­pen­ing this year. I’m ready to start talk­ing about how we can en­gage stu­dents so we are con­tribut­ing to the schools and the schools are con­tribut­ing to us.

“Ul­ti­mately, at some point, stu­dents at­tend­ing the col­lege who gain in­sight and ex­pe­ri­ence from the pro­gram might well con­sider work­ing in the dis­abil­ity sec­tor in the fu­ture.

“At the same time, we will get a good look at peo­ple who might be­come po­ten­tially im­me­di­ate work­ers with Wood­bine.”

The part­ner­ship is de­signed to en­hance and de­velop new learn­ing, ac­tiv­ity and em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties. It also has the po­ten­tial to open new doors of op­por­tu­nity for peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties from across the re­gion and be­yond while stim­u­lat­ing stu­dent ed­u­ca­tion and ca­reer am­bi­tions.

Mr O’con­nor said about 11 peo­ple were so far us­ing the ser­vice, which also in­volved work­ing re­la­tion­ships with Bun­nings and Spot­light busi­nesses in Hor­sham.

“Re­ports are good. There are still a lot of peo­ple pre­fer­ring to travel from Hor­sham to War­rackn­abeal, which is fine,” he said.

“But what we have to do is cre­ate and de­velop the same cul­ture we have at Wood­bine at the school and we’re con­fi­dent this can hap­pen.”

The in­ter-town pro­gram is de­signed to en­hance ser­vice pro­vi­sion at War­rackn­abeal and ‘in­crease and en­hance op­por­tu­ni­ties and choice’.

Part of the at­trac­tion for Wood­bine in the ar­range­ment is that it will have ac­cess to modern fa­cil­i­ties at the new schools.

For Hor­sham Col­lege, the part­ner­ship con­cept is to pro­vide stu­dents with op­por­tu­ni­ties for in­clu­sive prac­tice, work ex­pe­ri­ence, school­based apprenticeships and trainee­ships and the po­ten­tial for school leavers to en­ter the dis­abil­ity-sec­tor work­force.

Wood­bine has es­tab­lished a cater­ing pro­gram at Hor­sham Spe­cial School and con­sol­i­dat­ing the part­ner­ship has the po­ten­tial to open the door for other stu­dent-en­gage­ment ac­tiv­i­ties.

“What we have to do is cre­ate and de­velop the same cul­ture we have at Wood­bine, at the school” – Bernie O’con­nor

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