The team at MAX Warragul often share the benefits of hiring people with disability with potential employers in their community.
And for the past five years, they’ve had their own positive experience to draw on as they do so.
In 2016 they welcomed Jess Rosenboom to their team.
Jess lives with autism and started at MAX as a disability employment services customer.
She recalls coming to MAX feeling jaded after her experiences with other employment services providers. In those first weeks coming into the MAX office she was unhappy and unwilling to participate.
“I had to attend group sessions and I hated that. So I would bring my iPad and plonk myself down in the middle of the doorway. They could mark me off but I didn’t want to be involved,” she says.
“But slowly over time, I built up the courage to sit on a chair by the trainer’s desk,” continues Jess.
“And then I came in for my job search one day and Kirsty called me over. I was stressed out and didn’t want to be there,” says Jess.
“She told me she wanted to offer me a job at MAX – I absolutely couldn’t believe it,” she shares.
Kirsty Brereton is the Business Manager at MAX Warragul and she saw something in the young woman – something underneath Jess’ self-confessed belligerent exterior.
“Even my other team members were shocked when I first told them Jess was joining our team,” says Kirsty.
“Jess was very belligerent. But this was largely due to her frustration. She wanted to work and couldn’t understand why she couldn’t get a job,” she says.
“As we looked to employ one of our DES customers for an administration role, I purposely chose Jess to demonstrate the immense benefit and impact having a job can make.
“I also felt that if we weren’t willing to give her a chance, how could we expect local employers to give her an opportunity,” she shares.
And as Kirsty expected, the transformation has been stunning.
Jess admits it took a couple of months to settle in.
“To begin with, I constantly had to ask for help logging in, clicking on different things. But over time I’ve built up my confidence with everything,” she says.
Far from the quarrelsome customer Kirsty first met, Jess has blossomed into a confident and capable employee and young woman.
“I’ve loved every second of being at MAX. It’s been the best thing ever. Just being able to go to work; I appreciate being able to go to work. I’m always willing to help people out.
“I do whatever I need to do to help the team out – I feel that’s my responsibility,” she says.
For Jess, her autism brings high levels of intelligence in a lot of areas. But she admits she has her challenges too.
“I struggle with communication and bottling things up. I’m not great on email but I am good at talking to people I know. I love talking with my co-workers,” she says.
“It’s very rewarding to help other people out who may need a little bit extra assistance. I have a lot of empathy for them in that I know where they’ve come from,” she says.
“I just love it, I just love work – it’s one of the best things,” she says.
Jess has brought to MAX a fabulous work ethic and during the recent lockdowns, when her office was open, she provided administration support to not only her own team, but other Victorian MAX offices who remained in lockdown and weren’t able to access office equipment on site.
“It’s been great to have Jess to support the wider MAX team. She’s always eager to help and do whatever she can,” says Kirsty.
We’re delighted to count Jess as part of the MAX team, and to showcase firsthand the transformation that having a stable job and a supportive work environment can provide.