Kurrajong helps make work dreams come true

Joel Jenkins standing in front of a fire truckJoel Jenkins is living proof of the power of Kurrajong’s Transition to Work program.

Joel, 19, first became involved with Kurrajong when he was at school.

“It all started when I was at school,” Joel explains. “I wasn’t learning well and was really struggling, so the school contacted Kurrajong First Contact (previously called Kurrajong Disability Solutions) and I met Norm Corcoran.

“We had an interview with Norm and I ended up doing three days’ work placement at Kurrajong Recyclers’ electronic recycling each week.”

Joel became part of the Transition to Work program, which helped build his skills and readiness for employment.

“I got a lot out of it. We did our First Aid, our White Card training. We got to have a look around the Turvey Park Fire Station, which was a lot of fun.

“I had work placements at Kurrajong Recyclers, then at the RFS (NSW Rural Fire Service) and at the SES (State Emergency Services).

“The Transition to Work program was just fantastic.

“They helped me to finish school and then helped prepare me for the job. All the staff and everyone was so kind and they helped with building practical skills.”

It was during work placement with the RFS that a full-time position with the State Mitigation Support Service became available.

With support from both the RFS and Kurrajong staff, Joel applied for the position and was asked to complete a practical assessment to test his physical ability to do the job.

“When I completed that, I was nervous waiting for the results. I didn’t get the results for a few weeks after, so I just had to wait for a phone call but then they rang me and I got the job. It was great!”

Joel is now employed as a full-time Crew Member with State Mitigation and assists the team undertake mitigation work, such as clearing fire trails.

“We also do aid work for the elderly – like cutting their lawns, cleaning their gutters out and chopping down overgrown vines – and support the districts if they need trucks moved.

“I like everything about the job. All the maintenance, all the chainsaw work, the brush-cutting, talking on the radios and stuff.

“I really love hard work, and from day one, the people have been wonderful. Everyone I’ve met since I got into Kurrajong and the RFS have been absolutely fantastic to me and they’re really easy to get along with.”

As well as securing full-time work, Joel credits Kurrajong with helping him become a volunteer firefighter for his local brigade in Coolamon.

“The Transition to Work program was the best thing I’ve ever done. I’ve got a job out of it thanks to Kurrajong and the RFS then encouraged me to become a volunteer firefighter, so if it wasn’t for Kurrajong, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

“I love helping people, helping the community. That’s very important to me to look after our community and protect lives from raging bushfires.

“I’m also happy to encourage other people to talk to Kurrajong about what they need and let them know that it really is possible to get a job.”