Star's volunteering program leads to employment for Arran Hansen

May 4, 2021, Redland City Bulletin

THREE years ago STAR Community Services put a plan in place to engage people with disabilities in volunteering through Volunteering Redlands.

The program aimed to encourage a link to the community between people with disabilities and organisations that could offer potential volunteering opportunities.

Arran Hansen was finding it increasingly difficult to find work due to his intellectual disability and applied for several volunteering positions with STAR.

STAR's Client Planning and Service Delivery Manager Melissa Bannerman recognised that although Mr Hansen could accomplish sections of each position, he could not fill all the requirements of any of the positions.

A new role was created with selected elements from different roles that suited his skills and Mr Hansen was employed as a volunteer.

That was two years ago.

Mr Hansen recently became a paid employee with STAR and carries out his duties with pride and accuracy.

He now speaks publicly at expos and meetings on persistence and resilience.

"I didn't want to give up trying to get work. I knew I could do it if I had the opportunity. I am working with others, building my self-confidence and increasing my independence, which is really important to me," Mr Hansen said.

"I have reached my goal. I will have to set a new one now."

Mr Hansen will speak at the Celebration of Volunteers on May 22 at Raby Bay Harbour Park.

"Barriers have been created due to misconceptions associated with employing a person with a disability," Ms Bannerman said.

"Barriers can begin for people with intellectual disabilities when they encounter misconceived low expectations at school. They can then enter adulthood where obstacles grow with lack of employment opportunities and inaccurate stereotyping together with misconceived notions of capabilities hindering their employment."

Research from Safe Work Australia proves that people with a disability have less occupational health and safety cases than able-bodied workers.

SWA studies also show a high retention rate of people with disabilities decreases recruitment costs and develops a sustainable and improved workplace reputation.