Big hearted

A Gee­long com­pany that bent over back­wards to em­ploy, train and com­mu­ni­cate with a deaf worker has been hailed as a na­tional em­ploy­ment hero

Deals on Wheels - - Contents -

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)

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