Justin has a great deal of stories and achievements accomplished during his time at Moe Life Skills. His confidence has grown with every performance at the annual Moe Life Skills theatre production since it began in 1997 at the Awakenings Festival in Horsham.
In 2003 Moe Life Skills approached Albert Street Primary School to volunteer their services for the school canteen. The school was so enthusiastic, Justin started the next day. As the first Moe Life Skills participant to start work experience at the Albert Street Primary School canteen, Justin paved the way for other participants to follow suit and gain skills, knowledge and confidence in food handling, preparation and service. Following this success, Moe Life Skills started to offer catering services for lunches, afternoon teas and suppers to businesses in the local area.
In 2004 when Albert Street Primary School started their Breakfast Club, the school principal approached Justin to fill the volunteer role which he held for a subsequent three years. The early starts were initially out of routine for Justin however he soldiered through getting up bright and early to perform his role. Other participants from Moe Life Skills have listened and seen what Justin has accomplished. Many are keen to follow his steps knowing that other partnerships existed within the local community that give people with disabilities an opportunity to contribute at a level that suits the individual and the organisation.
In 2007 Justin was nominated for a leadership award for the Office for Disability’s Bar None project which recognises the efforts of people with and without disability who are making a difference in their communities.
In 2013 the Hon. Peter Hall the Minister for Higher Education and Skills invited Justin and fellow Moe Life Skills participants John Kelly and Angela Clement to cut the ribbon and officially declare Cafe 65 open at Narracan Gardens aged care facility. The broad aim of the project was to establish and operate a coffee bar / training facility to expand the training and employment options for participants with disabilities, building on their existing knowledge and skills. Cafe 65 provides Moe Life Skills participants with the opportunity to apply these skills in an authentic work environment, as well as responding to the real-life demands of their everyday lives. For residents at Narracan Gardens, Cafe 65 offers the opportunity to form, maintain and extend their social relationships and networks, to remain a part of the community, through integrating community activities, events and educational programs.
In addition to these achievements, Justin regularly has speaking engagements at the Moe Life Skills annual general meeting, Probus Club, Monash university, and annual Having A Say conference in Geelong. He has been involved with the Moe Life Skills advocacy group and has travelled to Melbourne for advocacy meetings. Through programs such as Towards Independence, Justin has developed the skills to use the internet, mobile phone, iPad and computers; to shop for items at the supermarket and to cook healthy meals; he is very familiar around the kitchen and does his own baking; he attends social functions with friends locally; travels on the bus or train to visit family independently; and can stay at home independently from a few days and even a few weeks. We are very proud of Justin’s many achievements and can’t wait to see what other projects he chooses to set his sights on.
- Stevens, G. (2015), ‘Walking, the safe option’, Latrobe Valley Express, 21 Decemeber: http://www.latrobevalleyexpress.com.au/story/3591675/walking-the-safe-option/
- Darroch, S. (2016), ‘Walking tall’, Latrobe Valley Express, 15 September: http://www.latrobevalleyexpress.com.au/story/4165900/walking-tall/