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People with disabilities kick-start their career in aged care

A ten week pilot program, which provides people with an intellectual disability with skills, training and experience to kick-start a career in aged care, has been hailed a success and could be an important step forward in meeting the employment demands of the growing sector.

IRT Group CEO Nieves Murray (on arm of chair), Flagstaff Group CEO Roy Rogers, The Hon John Akaka MLA and CareerAbility in Aged Care Program participants with IRT College employees
IRT Group CEO Nieves Murray (on arm of chair), Flagstaff Group CEO Roy Rogers, The Hon John Akaka MLA and CareerAbility in Aged Care Program participants with IRT College employees

Designed for people with an intellectual disability, the program 'CareerAbility in Aged Care' is a collaboration between aged care provider IRT Group and disability support organisation The Flagstaff Group.

Participants have completed three work placements at IRT William Beach Gardens in Kanahooka as part of their training to complete four units towards a Certificate III in Individual Care.

Ahead of the participants' graduation next week, students got together with IRT Group chief executive officer (CEO), Nieves Murray and Flagstaff Group CEO Roy Rogers, as well as the Hon John Ajaka MLC, New South Wales Minister for Disability Services and Minister for Ageing, to reflect on the success of the program.

"The successful delivery of this innovative program is truly a momentous achievement," Ms Murray says.

"I'm really excited for next week's graduation, which will mark the end of our first purpose-built training program for people with intellectual disability, and the start of what we hope will be a rewarding, fulfilling career in aged care for our seven graduates.”

She says the program also explores the potential for aged care providers to diversify their workforce by employing people with an intellectual disability, which she calls vital in an industry where a recent job market report found there were four times the number of jobs than there were workers.

Minister Ajaka was impressed with the partnership between IRT and Flagstaff and what the seven participants achieved during the program.

He asked the two organisations to collaborate on a formal review, that will help to inform the future direction of the program, which could possibly be rolled out beyond the Illawarra region.

One of the program's participants, Jordan Bowater, told Minister Ajaka that when offered the opportunity to participate in the program, he jumped at the chance.

"I've tried a few different things since completing my HSC, but nothing really worked out for me. I'm always looking to gain new skills and experience, so I'm really excited to finish the 10 week course, and potentially find employment in the aged care industry," he says.

Mr Bowater and his fellow participants will officially graduate from CareerAbility in Aged Care at a ceremony on Tuesday 15 November. They may choose to undertake further studies and seek employment within IRT, or elsewhere in the aged care industry.

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