COME AND HAVE A CHAT: Endeavour supported employees Gavin Perry and Michael Sedgwick are stand out role models for people living with disability.
COME AND HAVE A CHAT: Endeavour supported employees Gavin Perry and Michael Sedgwick are stand out role models for people living with disability.

The foundation making equality for people with disabilities

YOU WILL find Endeavour Foundation supported employees Gavin Perry, 58, and Michael Sedgwick, 23, working at Yeppoon Landfill Tip Shop on Wednesdays, smiling happily as they go out of their way to help customers.

Gavin and Michael both live with disability and are stand out examples of how living that doesn't make you any different to anyone else.

They would love to see the stigma of living with a disability removed from our society.

Michael lives with Down Syndrome. He loves horses and, at 18, competed in the Special Olympics.

He works manufacturing hardwood stakes and pegs for conveyancing works, works at the Tip Shop and spends his spare time playing his Xbox, ten pin bowling and hanging out with friends.

He said he loved a joke, always found a reason to laugh and loved making things.

"I am a man, just like any other man, I really like talking to people and don't see any difference between myself and other people," Michael said.

"People don't need to worry about me, just come up and say hello. I really like making new friends."

Likewise, Gavin likes doing the same things everyone else does, he loves horses, enjoys his life and always finds time for a chat.

Gavin, who lives with epilepsy and intellectual disability, said spending time with his family and friends was his favourite thing to do.

"I like helping out and have done lots of things in my life. My mother was a strapper so I have spent a lot of time around horses," he said.

"I would love to learn how to make saddles and other equine equipment.

"I'm just like everyone else, living with disability is just something I manage, it's not something anyone should be scared about."

New research from Endeavour Foundation asked Australians to assess their comfort level around people with intellectual disability in specific social situations, such as at a concert, on public transport and dining next to each other in the same restaurant.

Up to one-in-10 Australians reported feelings of discomfort around people with a mild intellectual disability but that figure rose to nearly one-in-four if the person's impairment was significant.

Endeavour Foundation CEO Andrew Donne said the results showed there was room for improvement in Australians' inclusive attitudes.

"Through our Inclusion Survey, we wanted to hold up a mirror to society and reflect Australia's social attitudes towards people with an intellectual disability," Mr Donne said.

"We measured how comfortable Australians are in various social situations such as at a music concert, at a restaurant or on public transport.

"We found that, generally, Australians are comfortable around people with intellectual disability, which is good, but there is still some discrimination out there.

"Nearly a quarter of people surveyed reported some feelings of discomfort next to someone with a severe intellectual impairment in those scenarios.

"That's a discriminatory attitude and we need to change it.

"We hope our research can trigger a broader public discussion on how we can increase social inclusion for people with an intellectual because they simply want to participate in society like anybody else."

Endeavour Senior Shift Supervisor Wade Banker said Gavin and Michael were just two of the men he had worked with over the past 14 months.

"Working with the public has been great for these men, they can't do enough for people helping them find what they are looking for and loading people's cars with their purchases," he said.

"They are both very helpful and love interacting with customers.

"It is so beneficial for them and for other people living with disability to be employed in positions where they can show their worth as valued employees and active members of their community.

"It would be wonderful if more employers opened their doors to employ people living with disability.

"You only have to look at how much the customers at the Tip Shop value Gavin and Michaels assistance to see how other businesses would benefit from the same service."

If anyone is looking to employ someone with a disability, or if a person with an intellectual disability is looking for work in the region you can email or phone 1800 112 112.

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