Employing peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties in agri­cul­ture

The Western Star - - RURAL WEEKLY - Grow­com CEO PAT HANNAN

DIS­ABIL­ITY Ac­tion Week 2017, which goes from Septem­ber 10–16, is an op­por­tu­nity to con­sider the op­por­tu­ni­ties and sup­port avail­able for employing peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties in agri­cul­ture.

In the pro­duc­tion hor­ti­cul­ture in­dus­try, sourc­ing re­li­able labour presents a sig­nif­i­cant chal­lenge for many grow­ers.

One farm busi­ness in the Lock­yer Valley – com­mer­cial veg­etable seedlings sup­plier With­cott Seedlings – pro­vides an ex­am­ple of how employing peo­ple with a dis­abil­ity can sig­nif­i­cantly help fill gaps in the work­force.

They source up to 125 staff through dis­abil­ity sup­port ser­vice the En­deav­our Foun­da­tion dur­ing peak times to clean trays and racks for their hy­giene depart­ment.

With the sup­port of the En­deav­our Foun­da­tion, With­cott Seedlings has found employing peo­ple with a dis­abil­ity to be re­ward­ing and ben­e­fi­cial to their busi­ness.

The types of jobs on farms are di­verse and so are types of dis­abil­i­ties.

The Queens­land Agri­cul­ture Work­force Net­work (QAWN), which has sev­eral of­fi­cers based with Grow­com, has put to­gether some use­ful in­for­ma­tion for peo­ple in agri­cul­ture busi­ness.

QAWN has found that, ac­cord­ing to STEPS Na­tional Dis­abil­ity Co-or­di­na­tion Of­fi­cers, there are many ben­e­fits of a di­verse work­place and employing some­one with Autism Spec­trum Dis­or­der (ASD).

Ev­i­dence has shown peo­ple with ASD and other sim­i­lar con­di­tions may take fewer days off, take less sick leave and stay in jobs for longer than other work­ers do.

They may also have fewer com­pen­sa­tion in­ci­dents and ac­ci­dents at work com­pared with other work­ers.

For more in­for­ma­tion about sup­port avail­able to help farm busi­ness op­er­a­tors with dis­abil­ity em­ploy­ment, con­tact Karen Ge­orge on qawn_sqld@grow­com.com.au or phone 0408 135 003.

PHOTO: FILE

EM­PLOY­MENT: Grow­com is en­cour­ag­ing farm­ers to con­sider hir­ing work­ers with dis­abil­i­ties.

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