AchievAble Enterprises: Team of the Year
Following one of the toughest years in its nearly 20-year history, AchievAble Enterprises came out on top after being recognised as Achieve Australia’s Team of the Year in 2020. The social enterprise operates out of Newington, providing training, mentoring and supports for 65 employees with disability. When the team heard the news of the award, staff were thrilled about the acknowledgment and recognition they received.
“Everyone was really proud to hear that we had won,” says AchievAble’s Operations Manager Leanne Larche. “Through COVID it was really difficult for the team when about 80% of our work stopped. Employees were feeling anxious and we had to shut down for two weeks with the lockdown.”
Throughout March and April, many businesses who AchievAble relies upon were unable to continue their operations, including the airline industry. Labour hire operations, where employees are supported to work at local business sites, also stopped for some time.
It was with the help of regular customers, Rode Microphones and Finsbury Green, who kept the team going. “Without Rode Mics and Finsbury, we would not have had enough work to keep people going. We are really grateful to their teams for continuing to give us work during that time,” says Leanne.
In July, operations started to pick up. Leanne and her team came up with new rosters to rotate shifts, so that all employees could have the chance to come back to work if they wanted to. COVID safety policies and procedures also meant social distancing and infection control was prioritised.
“We felt it was important for people to come back when it was safe to, as everyone had been at home for a long time,” says Leanne. “I could also hear when I spoke to the people we support and their families that many wanted to come back.”
Leanne kept in regular contact with the AchievAble team throughout the challenging times, remaining positive and encouraging that COVID was a hurdle they could get through. When businesses reconnected again from September, the team was operating at nearly full capacity.
Chai Brandwood has been working at AchievAble since July 2018 and says it was important to return to work for a few reasons. “The best thing about coming back was seeing everyone and getting back to a routine. It was boring at home,” says Chai. “I like the people here and enjoy the staff training me on new jobs. As part of the AchievAble team we are like family.”
Today many employees have now returned to work on a regular basis. On the job it’s not all serious, there’s often laughter and fun as well as regular sing-a-longs with the radio playing in the background.
As a long-term employee, Wayne Lightfoot has worked AchievAble since August 2008. Wayne says he was happy to hear the team received an award because he enjoys coming to work at Newington. “I felt fantastic and happy when we got the award,” says Wayne. “I make new friends here and everyone is nice.”
The team celebrated their award with a morning tea and presentation of a plaque and certificate. A well-deserved acknowledgement for a resilient and hard working team who together got through 2020.