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Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Prime Minister’s Community Business Award Winners Boost People with Disabilities and Disadvantaged Youth in South Australia

The Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, today congratulated two South Australian partnerships, for winning 2004 Prime Minister’s Awards for Excellence in Community Business Partnerships in South Australia.

The two award-winning partnerships have been recognised for outstanding contributions to the community, by providing jobs and training for people with disabilities and improving the lives of disengaged and disadvantaged youth.

The SA Large Business Award has been won by a partnership between Electrolux Home Products Pty Ltd (Services and Spare Parts) and Phoenix Society Incorporated for providing training and job opportunities for people with disabilities.

Phoenix has five facilities in SA, which offer employment and training opportunities for 385 people with varying degrees of disability. Phoenix has provided a number of employees to Electrolux and supervises their training and work performance. It has also provided the necessary infrastructure and support to maintain a disability employment program.

Electrolux originally outsourced some of its labour requirements to Phoenix but then provided opportunities for people to work within its Woodville North facility. The company provided physical infrastructure including buildings and equipment, which gave people with disabilities the chance to work in a commercial manufacturing facility.

This arrangement has enabled a reduction in travelling time for the employees and given them greater exposure to a mainstream workplace where they are gaining valuable training and skill development. Phoenix’s involvement in management of work production targets has also improved the employees’ expertise.

“The partnership has given Electrolux access to a reliable source of labour and greater flexibility to respond to work demands. Other staff have benefited from first hand experience of the issues related to employment of people with disabilities and training by Phoenix,” Senator Patterson said.

“This partnership has enabled people with disabilities to gain skills and develop self-esteem which has equipped them to progress through the employment and training process and win jobs in mainstream employment.

“It has not only helped people with disabilities to make the transition to the open workforce it is also shown others how this can be achieved on a broader scale.”

The SA Medium Business Award has been won by the partnership between Burns for Blinds and Youth Opportunities Association for its work in improving the lives of disengaged and disadvantaged youth.

Burns for Blinds, a successful SA blind furnishing company and Youth Opportunities, a seven-year-old non-profit organisation, have conducted programs to empower young people with skills, confidence and the motivation to break cycles of under-achievement, marginalisation and poverty in their communities.

Youth Opportunities has been working with 11 SA schools located in areas with low socio-economic demographics. To date, 93 per cent of more than 300 graduates have won jobs within three months of finishing the program. Youth Opportunities’ success has been recognised by the SA government as offering a key solution to the state’s most problematic schools.

The company has been recognised for its contribution to the community with positive results for its customer base and suppliers. Sales turnover has increased from $1.5 million to $9 million a year through the partnership. The company won the Prime Minister’s Award for Excellence in Business and Community Partnerships (SA) two years ago in the Small Business category.

“This program is achieving results by changing the outlook of young people from being victims of circumstance to being leaders,” Senator Patterson said.

State Encouragement Awards have also been made to the partnership, Libby Hogarth and Associates and Australian Refugee Association (ARA) Inc, in the Small Business category and Fisher Jeffries and Helpmann Academy partnership in the Medium Business category.

Libby Hogarth, a professional migration service and the non-profit organisation, ARA, have given migration assistance to 1500 people in the past three years and their partnership has helped refugees rebuild their lives.

The partnership between legal firm, Fisher Jeffries and the high achieving non-profit Helpmann Academy, has supported young and emerging artists and helped launch many artists into successful professional careers.

Fisher Jeffries has helped develop a grants scheme, which has distributed more than $900,000 to young and emerging artists. The partnership’s Fisher Jeffries Christmas Card Commission Competition has become a regional and national benchmark in creative marketing as well as a springboard for Helpmann Academy students to achieve professional recognition in the wider community.