“ENCOURAGING NEWCOMER: Jake McCabe and Paul Tomlinson, tradesmen with Glenn Soper Electrical, stand behind Rubii as she embarks on a career as an electrician. Photo: Cr8 Studios.”
Rubii has anxiety and depression – relatively harmless sounding conditions, which can be incredibly restrictive for sufferers. You have no drive to do anything, and it’s a struggle to get yourself out of bed. Now, instead of being scared about what the future holds, I’m damn happy to get out of bed.” “I’m not afraid of hard work,” Rubii said. “For months, I ran crews of truck cleaners on 14 hour overnight shifts in Brisbane, dripping wet and wearing 4 – 5 layers, gloves and a raincoat.” This brave young woman agreed to talk about her anxiety and depression in this story to reduce social stigmas about mental health conditions. Now Rubii is also following her dream to be an electrician. She researched where she could study and where work was available and set her sights on a TAFE course just outside Maroochydore. She saved up, submitted a strong application with all the paperwork, found a place to rent suitable for her pet bird, got her driver’s licence and co-ordinated a move. No easy job for any young person, but especially challenging with her disability. Rubii was able to achieve all this because she had the support of CHESS Employment at every step. “CHESS showed me how to access different information on studying, showed me how to plan and go about things, as well as reassuring me constantly,” she said. A disability employment service, CHESS supports people like Rubii to achieve their goals and to become work-ready. Moving, changing career and leaving your family are all stressful events, and Rubii had moments of anxiety as she neared her goal, and CHESS supported her through these. Like many people with anxiety or depression, Rubii didn’t originally register with a disability employment service, not realising she could benefit from the support available. Participating in a CHESS work readiness program rebuilt her self-confidence and helped her to redefine her career goals. “At CHESS, they were compassionate and understanding, not judgemental about issues you might be having; instead, they are really genuine and actually want to make a difference. “I’ve been to pretty much all of the job agencies, but without CHESS, I would not have had the confidence and known how to go about doing what I’m doing now.”
Glenn Soper Electrical is a local employer keen to see more women electricians and willing to consider jobseekers with disabilities. Before Rubii headed off for the bright lights of Maroochydore, CHESS Employment asked Glenn Soper for some last-minute advice. “We find the best in their field are also professionally generous, like Glenn Soper Electrical,” said CHESS General Manager, Paul Kelly. When Glenn Soper heard Rubii’s story, he asked one of his experienced electricians, Paul Tomlinson, to give her some pointers on her career. Paul encouraged Rubii to be patient, ask lots of questions in class and not to worry about the challenging course. “I would definitely look at employing women, as female electricians are often brilliant at the technical aspects of the work, Glenn said. “Female electricians are an important part of the future of the trade.” Electricians now perform highly complex work, as integrated data and communications systems are now installed. “Our business was one of the first locally to diversify into data communications, so we understand the need to invest in training variety and also mentorship,” Glenn said. “For us to consider a person with disabilities, they would need to be able to handle the physicality of the job, be reliable and able to concentrate in what is dangerous work. “I would need to know the job agency could manage the risk for me employing someone with a mental health issue, to be responsible for any problems that came up, so I can concentrate on training them as well as I can. “Electrical work is complex and dangerous, making mentoring important, so we only hire one apprentice every four years and pair them with one or two tradesmen,” he said. Glenn was so impressed with Rubii’s efforts to become an electrician, he invited her to phone him for any future mentoring she needed. Call CHESS Employment on 6691 9333 to learn more about disability employment services for both jobseekers and employers.
This story was published in issue 23 of the Coffs Coast Focus