As WA battles the pressure of tighter supply chains as a result of COVID-19, a team of engineering workers, from Perth’s northern suburbs, is stepping up to meet soaring demand in the local building market.
The Goodwill Engineering team – which comprises 68 people with disability and 12 support staff – has been busy producing and supplying an unprecedented volume of building products to hardware stores across the state.
Twenty years ago, Versatile Building Products – the trade-focused arm of Mitre 10, based in Malaga – first took a punt on Goodwill as a local supplier contracting workers with disability to produce wall ties for bricklayers. It turned out to be a seriously smart business decision.
“With the booming residential building market we’re tackling in WA right now, we’re happy and thankful to have a local manufacturer that can meet the demand on a timely basis,” said Frank Lucchese from Versatile Building Products.
“We’ve avoided major disruption to the business by having a local supplier – they always deliver on time and to a high quality,” he added.
Jacquie Thomson, CEO of Ability Centre (the operator of Goodwill Engineering) said that businesses like Versatile can reap big rewards by engaging people with disability.
“Less than half of working age (15-64) people with disability are employed – yet we know that creating employment pathways for people with disability brings enormous benefits, both for the business and for the broader community,” Jacquie said.
“People with disability – just like the team at Goodwill – are exceptionally well trained, enthusiastic and committed,” she said.
Supported employee Jamie Doulis, 31, has worked at the Malaga site for 15 years and says the Goodwill Engineering team is “like family”.
“I’ve developed a real appreciation of people with different abilities and their amazing skills – there’s a lot of camaraderie here.”
“Everyone has skills to offer – it’s just about finding the right space and the right role,” said Gloria Smith, Assistant Supervisor at the Malaga site.
“All Western Australian businesses should strive for inclusive workplaces and diverse workforces – and creating employment pathways for people with disability is an important part of that,” she said.
“Like all of us, people with disability deserve to learn and grow in a workplace, learn new skills and feel like they are making a contribution – and there’s no doubt that this team is doing just that,” she added.