Keith Rickman and his son, Scott know the value that people with disability can offer a workplace better than most.
Between them, the pair has chalked up 65 years of meaningful employment – Keith, a remarkable 50-year career at the City of Stirling, and Scott, who has an intellectual disability, celebrating 15 years with disability services provider, Workpower.
Keith, who started with the City of Stirling delivering pamphlets, has long been an advocate of employing people with disability in the waste sector.
The Coordinator Waste Services, who retires in October, has charted a new path for the City in engaging people with disability, thinking outside the square and inspiring others to follow its lead.
Seeing huge potential within the Recycling Centre Balcatta for people with disability to find meaningful work, Keith was instrumental in the City looking to a disability services provider to oversee the management of the Balcatta recycling loop and shop facility.
“We were coming to the end of a contract and I suggested to the Council, “what about looking at this differently and engaging a disability enterprise to run the recycling shop?” says Keith.
Workpower was subsequently awarded the contract in 2016 to manage and run the Balcatta Recycling Shop in conjunction with the City – and has never looked back.
The team, which includes more than 10 people with disability, is responsible for a variety of tasks including loading cardboard into compactor trucks, directing traffic, unloading customer goods, cleaning and de-gassing white goods and operating the point-of-sale system.
Balcatta’s Recycling Shop’s partnership with Workpower has gone on to receive national recognition. The model has also been adopted by Mindarie Regional Council which has contracted Workpower to operate its facility.
“I’m hoping it has opened the door to inspire other businesses to hire people with disability,” explains Keith.
“I think everyone has a responsibility to support people with disability and we should all do our bit to help,” says Keith.
“Workpower supervisors are very proactive and positive with their training. They know the skills of individual team members and they support them in their role. They know their capabilities and they have a very good understanding of what their staff can do.”
As Keith explains, having meaningful work is important for workers of all abilities.
“I have always believed there is a job for everyone,” says Keith.
Scott, 34, is one of more than four million people in Australia – or around 18 per cent of the population – who have some form of disability, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
He is also one of more than one million people of working-age (15-64) who according to the AIHW’s People with Disability in Australia 2020 participate in the labour force through work or looking for work.
Scott works in Workpower’s Packaging and Warehouse enterprise, which offers businesses a range of industrial services including complete assembly and collation, warehousing, inventory management and packaging services.
Across the state there are dozens of commercial businesses that employ people with disability – directly or indirectly – through WA disability services organisations. These organisations offer valuable support to people with disability and the businesses who employ them.
These organisations recruit, train and support people with disability to be business-ready, providing free advice, assistance and on-the-ground support to people with disability and their employers.
With their support businesses can help provide meaningful employment for people with disability while creating diverse, interesting and healthy workplaces.
Workers with disability, like Scott, are skilled, highly capable and passionate about their work.
Scott “lives for his job”, said his proud father.
“Scott and his friends love going to work, you can’t keep them away. Scott gets great satisfaction from his work. He loves the interaction with people and is very focused and proud of the work he does.”
Since 1992, Workpower has worked with thousands of Western Australians with disability to help create a world of opportunity for them and their families.
Workpower Chief Executive Officer Lee Broomhall congratulated Keith and Scott on their career milestones and paid tribute to the inspiring work Keith has done for Western Australians with disability and their families.
“Keith Rickman has been a champion for people with disability and their inclusion in the workforce. We applaud him for the tremendous work he has done with the Balcatta Recycling Shop which has inspired others to follow in their footsteps.”
In retirement, Keith is looking forward to continuing his involvement with Workpower and the City of Stirling, in a volunteering capacity.
For more information about how you can make a difference to people with disability and your business, visit @InclusiveEmploymentWA on Facebook or contact us.