A green thumbs-up: Lachlan finds his calling outdoors.


June 19, 2024

When Lachlan joined Uniting’s Pathways 2 Employment group in Melton in 2022, setting off on a pathway to a career – let alone finding something he enjoyed – seemed beyond his reach.

For Lachlan – and for so many young people living with disabilities – misconceptions about intellectual disabilities and a lack of awareness mean that a young person’s goals and dreams can remain unrealised. Assumptions about someone’s potential often come from a place of wanting to protect the person living with a disability or keep them safe from disappointment. And while this is helpful in some situations, it can take a toll on confidence and development.

Programs such as Pathways 2 Employment (known by the NDIS name School Leaver Employment Supports or SLES) provide one-on-one, tailored support to explore goals, develop skills, and practice being out in the world as an independent adult – things many of us take for granted. And for people like Lachlan, these tailored supports mean he can understand himself better, try new things in a positive environment, and see a future that belongs to him.

When Lachlan started Pathways 2 Employment he was very quiet. “He didn’t feel confident when speaking with new people”, says Nicole Ferlazzo – Pathways 2 Employment Community Relations Coordinator.

“And he didn’t know what he wanted to do. He had never had the chance to explore his potential”.

For Lachlan, being encouraged to explore his skills, and try a range of activities in a supportive environment meant that he eventually started to enjoy and excel at certain hands-on tasks.

Lachlan’s initial taste of outdoor work was at Toolern Primary school where he was engaged as an Edconnect Volunteer. In this placement, Lachlan demonstrated that he was able to work independently completing the tasks given to him by the maintenance manager.

“The big shift for him was starting hands on activities in work placement where he really shone and had the opportunity to show what he could do,” says Nicole.

Then Lachlan started his work experience at True Green Nursery, with the help of his Employment Coordinator. His tasks include moving stock, watering plants, weeding and tidying up garden beds, trimming plants and hedges, and helping customers take purchases to their cars.

The Uniting team talk to the nursery regularly about Lachlan’s progress and identify new skills for Lachlan to work on to build up his experience.

“Seeing his confidence build, and the smile on Lachlan’s face – we know this program works”, says Nicole. “It makes the team so proud to see him continue on this exciting journey.”

Learn more about School Leaver Employment Supports (SLES).

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