WDEA Works Community Partnerships Prove Fruitful with Inclusive Town Project

Bendigo’s Beechworth Bakery prides itself on more than just its famous pies and cakes. Manager Jordan Ditloff is well-aware that the bakery thrives on the success of its employees, and was excited to be part of a partnership that’s helped remove employment barriers for a local Bendigo woman.

In 2017, the City of Greater Bendigo introduced its Inclusive Towns Project, aimed at increasing the accessibility of local businesses in three areas, including communication, physical environment and disability awareness. In partnership with the NDIS ILC Project (Information, linkages and capacity) and WDEA Works, Inclusive Towns was able to match Katrina with her employer, the Beechworth Bakery. Inclusive Towns Project Officer Allison Jones connected the bakery with WDEA Works, and they successfully put local woman Katrina forward for the position.

As a single parent experiencing a range of health issues including diabetes and chronic pain, Katrina knew that finding the right employment fit could be difficult. But just a week after entering WDEA Works’ Disability Employment Service (DES), Katrina had a new job with the Beechworth Bakery.

For Katrina, the opportunity to work has proved to be a positive addition to her life. She works with customers, cleans and helps with food preparation.

‘I’m really enjoying the social interaction of the job,’ she said.

‘But apart from that, it’s good to have a boost to my confidence and my finances too.’

WDEA Works Bendigo was thrilled to be part of the Inclusive Towns project, strengthening their connection to Bendigo and directly improving the life of a community member. They were also able to support Katrina into employment by assisting with clothing, footwear and fuel cards. Importantly, they also helped Katrina have open communication with her employer.

As a family-owned business, the Beechworth Bakery has been particularly supportive of Katrina’s role as a single parent.

‘Beechworth Bakery have been fantastic,’ said WDEA Works Employment Consultant Amanda Amarto.

‘They really understand the ins and outs of being a mum and Katrina feels very supported by her community.’

WDEA Works Employment Consultant Amanda Amarto knows how hard it can be to fit employer and employee together. The three-way partnership of Inclusive Towns, the Beechworth Bakery and WDEA Works Bendigo proved to be a successful demonstration of the power of community.

‘We know that more community involvement means better outcomes for people experiencing disability, so as soon as Inclusive Towns came to us, we knew that we’d have the best chance of helping someone into employment,’ she said.

‘We’re really proud of how well Katrina is thriving. Seeing someone as happy as she is, is why we do this job.’

Katrina dressed in her beechworth bakery uniform standing behind the cash register
Katrina is enjoying her employment with the Beechworth Bakery.
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  • WDEA Works Employment division incorporates both Disability Employment Services and jobactive.
  • Disability Employment Services
  • jobactive