Media Release by Senator the Hon Jan McLucas

More traineeships in Bellambi for people with a disability

Joint Media Release with:

  • Hon. Kate Ellis MP, Minister for Employment Participation and Child Care
  • Sharon Bird MP, Federal Member for Cunningham

Minister for Employment Participation and Child Care, Kate Ellis and Federal Member for Cunningham Sharon Bird, today announced funding of $600,000 from the Innovation Fund program for Mission Australia’s Feather Weight project.

This project will train and employ up to 11 job seekers with disability in recycling services, giving them the support they need to achieve accredited training in Certificate II in waste management.

The job seekers will receive training though a soon to be established social enterprise Feather Weight, which will manufacture punching bags and protective sports equipment, including tackle bags, hit shields and goal post pads.

“For people with a disability, the benefits of work extend far beyond a mere pay packet. A good job brings with it dignity, purpose and a sense of connectedness to the community,” Ms Ellis said.

“The Feather Weight project will provide the critical support and assistance that unemployed people with a physical disability or mental illness need to be able to enter the labour market.”

This project will also have an environmental benefit, as job seekers will be working to reduce waste material such as car seats, from the automotive industry by an estimated 1,020,000 tonnes, which would otherwise be sent to landfill.

The project will give job seekers the opportunity to gain paid work experience combined with on-the-job training, peer support, group learning and personal support services, all as part of an integrated service delivery model.

Ms Bird said that the project will benefit not only job seekers with disability but the broader Bellambi community through the establishment of a viable self sustaining social enterprise.

“The Government is also providing funding so that the participants are supported once they complete their training and can successfully transition to the open labour market,” Ms Bird said.

“I believe that we can do better than a lifetime spent on income support for residents in Bellambi who are living with a disability but have the capacity and the will to work.”

“That is why we are also making it easier for people on disability pensions to get and keep a job and providing employers with incentives to hire people with disability through the 2011-12 Budget.”

Senator McLucas said that “increasing access to employment opportunities is an important part of the National Disability Strategy.”

“Mission Australia’s Feather Weight project will provide valuable work and training opportunities for local people with disability.”

The National Disability Strategy sets a ten-year reform plan that will help to ensure that people with disability have the same opportunities as other Australians. Developed through the Council of Australian Governments, the Strategy is the first time in Australia’s history that all governments have committed to a unified, national approach to improving the lives of people with disability, their families and carers.

The Feather Weight project is one of 12 Innovation Fund projects targeting assistance to job seekers with disability, valued at approximately $2.9 million.

The $41 million Innovation Fund also contributes to the achievement of the

Australian Government’s Social Inclusion Agenda, which includes supporting innovative strategies to help disadvantaged job seekers find and retain employment.

For more information on the Innovation Fund visit: