Vocational Services

True Stories: Chris Duffus – 91 sets of traffic lights!

For 7 years I travelled from Wollongong to Sydney for my job. On a good day it took me 1 hour and 20 minutes to get through the 91 sets of traffic lights, but these days it takes me 2 minutes and two sets of lights to get to work!

Chris Duffus_edited1

I was working in a marketing role for a large company in Sydney and was being paid well – but I paid for it. My job took up a lot of my time and I sacrificed a lot. I had a young family and was looking to change careers paths. Fortunately, just at the right time, I saw an ad in the local paper for my current job.

I’ve been working as the Operations Manager at The Disability Trust’s Illawarra Vocational Services (IVS) for 6 years now. Our supported employees provide lawn mowing and garden maintenance services, and some packaging services, for businesses in the Illawarra region. We’re like family to many of our employees and we provide support to them in many areas.

True Stories: Steve Smith – helping people to achieve their goals

Lawn mowing and landscaping in the IllawarraSteve Smith

I entered the disability sector after many years in the motor trades and heavy industry, basically doing the same thing day in and day out.  I started to think that there must be more to life and a friend of mine was happily working at Illawarra Vocational Services (IVS), so I enquired with them.

I ended up starting as a casual and soon after I became a full time staff member – that was more than 17 years ago!

My day to day role at IVS is to take a crew of 4-5 supported employees into the open work environment to do lawn maintenance, landscaping and general maintenance jobs for different companies in the Illawarra area. I am one of 8 supervisors who work with our 44 supported employees – a few of whom have been working at IVS for 20 years.

When we are out for the day I teach the employees new skills in completing the jobs we need to do and I also help to hone the skills they already have. These kinds of jobs include lawn mowing, line trimming and general garden maintenance, with an emphasis on safety.