High-tech upgrade for disability enterprise organisation opens doors for training and employment

NEW machinery worth more than $200,000 is delivering new employment and vocational training opportunities for people with a disability in Hobart.

Australian Disability Enterprise organisation St Vincent Industries has built 26 new rag-cutting machines with the support of a $129,000 grant from the Tasmanian Community Fund (TCF).

A leading manufacturer and supplier of cleaning cloths and recycled rags in southern Tasmania, St Vincent Industries supplies to more than 600 customers across the state.

Designed by former University of Tasmania engineering students, the equipment has replaced 20 out-dated cutting machines.

The additional six machines will create six new jobs for people with a disability, which St Vincent Industries will progressively fill throughout the year.

St Vincent Industries chief executive officer Daniel Teague said the machines would vastly improve working conditions for St Vincent’s 38 employees.

“The machines have allowed us to raise the bar and stay ahead of the game on issues such as work health and safety legislation,” he said.

“They are fully adjustable in terms of bench height and angle, which enables employees of different heights, or limitations due to disability, to find a comfortable sitting or standing working position.”

Unlike the old machines, which were more than 30-years-old and made of wood, Mr Teague said the new machines mitigated noise and vibration with a modern motor and electronic features.

“Each machine is also fitted with a filtration system which minimises the amount of dust in the workplace,” he said.

“We are pleased to note that the finished product is of a much higher quality and our employees really enjoy using the machines.”

Established in 1972, St Vincent Industries specialises in providing supported employment and vocational training to people with disabilities with the aim to improve community access for its employees.

Mr Teague said St Vincent Industries was actively seeking new employees, with an emphasis on participants in the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

“We hope to have six new employees by the end of the year,” he said.

TCF chairwoman Lynn Mason said the Fund was pleased to invest in a project that would deliver a brighter and better future for many people with a disability with a capacity and desire to work.

“Ultimately, this project is about people with disabilities and removing the barriers they face in fully participating in the workforce and community,” she said.

“Without Australian Disability Enterprises, many people with a disability would lose the opportunity to work, socialise and learn new skills.”

The Tasmanian Community Fund was established in 1999 following the sale of the Trust Bank.

An independent funding body, the Fund provides grants to community organisations that make a difference by improving the social, environmental and economic wellbeing of the Tasmanian community.

For more information on how to apply for TCF grants and to view grant recipients from Grant Round 31 visit: www.tascomfund.org

Caption: St Vincent Industries’ Luke Toohey operating the new rag-cutting machinery, which was partly funded by a grant from the Tasmanian Community Fund.

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