The second phase of Achieve Australia’s literacy program, Positive Partners, has wrapped up and participants are excited to publish their stories in a book.

Positive Partners is a program developed by Achieve, through which corporate volunteers from Pricewaterhouse Coopers mentored with participants with disability to help build literacy skills. The program was launched in 2018, with the first phase working to build reading, writing and comprehension skills. Phase two expanded on those skills. Participants wrote their own stories, learning about character development, settings and story arches.

Volunteers from PwC and participants from Achieve Australia working together

Participants worked with their partners to handwrite their stories, then transfer them onto laptops for digital publication.

On top of this, the program provided a unique opportunity for participants from both PwC and Achieve to break out of their comfort zones and build confidence.

“When the participants started phase one of the program, they were all incredibly shy, they didn’t really want to interact with their partners. Now they rave about their sessions at PwC and every week they ask when they’re doing it again,” said Tarryn Severn, Corporate Engagement and Fundraising Manager at Achieve.

The best part about this program was being able to step away from work and life for an hour each week and do something fun, to do something for somebody else.

Ruby Pavone, Executive Assistant at PwC Australia

Each session is held 15 floors up the spectacular PwC Towers in Barangaroo, overlooking Sydney Harbour. This was an exciting experience for Achieve’s participants, who haven’t had the chance to experience a corporate setting like this before.

“My favourite part is coming here. I love being here,” said Robyn Sherwood, a participant at Achieve’s Epping Day Program hub. “Every week we come by taxi and I put my seatbelt on. I’ve never been in a big office like this before.”

Participants from the Positive Partners program receive certificates at the closing ceremony

Volunteers from PwC and program participants from Achieve Australia celebrating their accomplishments at the closing ceremony.

Before Positive Partners, many of the mentors from PwC hadn’t had the opportunity to work closely with people with disability. The program improved their understanding of disabilities, the important work of the disability sector and helped facilitate social inclusion.

“The best part about this program was being able to step away from work and life for an hour each week and do something fun, to do something for somebody else,” explained Ruby Pavone, who works as an Executive Assistant at PwC’s Sydney offices. “I’ve definitely gained confidence and loved building a relationship with my partner, Viv.”

The participants and their mentors celebrated their achievements on Tuesday 12 February at the closing ceremony at Achieve’s beautiful Araluen Chapel in Epping, where all participants were presented with certificates.

The book of creative stories will be published later in the year in both hard and digital copies and will mean all participants have a reminder of the experience and the new friendships formed over the course of the program.

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