Disability Works Australia

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Long Term Employment for Sonya


For South Australian residents, Adelaide Mushrooms is a household name. Adelaide Mushrooms is the main supplier of mushrooms in South Australia they now sell their products to markets in Victoria , Western Australia and the Northern Territory .

Originally purchased by the Schirripa family in 1984, Adelaide Mushrooms has a farm in Woodcroft and a new Monarto site which was purchased in 2000. The expansion project at Monarto is still being developed but has a composting shed in operation which supplies compost to the Woodcroft site. Besides these two farms, the trust also owns two sites in Tasmania , one in Spreyton and the other in Huon Valley . They are the predominant suppliers of mushrooms in Tasmania , representing about 95% of the market.

On September 22 nd 2008 , Disability Works Australia (DWA) and Adelaide Mushrooms signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to increase employment opportunities for people with disabilities. Adelaide Mushrooms employs approximately 350 staff nationally and the company is constantly expanding providing further opportunities for job seekers with disabilities.

The MOU represents Adelaide Mushrooms commitment and dedication to the community and their support for people with disabilities. Such support and dedication has already been proven in the case of Sonya Argent.

In an interesting case study, DWA's Chief Executive Officer, Tina Zeleznik was employed as an employment consultant with a Disability Employment Service (DES) about 20 years ago, long before the inception of DWA.

During her time with the DES, Tina placed Sonya Argent as a Mushroom Harvester with Adelaide Mushrooms. When attending the MOU signing, Tina recognised an employee working at Adelaide Mushrooms. The employee was Sonya who Tina had placed into work almost 21 years ago.

Sonya has been employed with Adelaide Mushrooms since completing school and has an inspiring passion for her work. She continues to work as a Mushroom Harvester and her job involves harvesting, grading the mushrooms and managing her “growing bed” to optimise produce over a 4 day period.

Sonya is no longer receiving support from a DES as she is comfortable with her work and well supported by her employer. Adelaide Mushrooms modified the duties for Sonya as she was unable to harvest the higher shelves.

Adelaide Mushrooms are to be applauded for the support they have provided to Sonya over the past 20 years. Although they do not treat Sonya differently to other employees, they are flexible and understand she may require extra time occasionally.

Sonya is a very valued employee who is well-liked and respected by the other employees of Adelaide Mushrooms. The company's chairman, Douglas Schirripa said, “Sonya is a model employee liked by all and her dedication to the company is a credit to her.”

“Watching Sonya enjoy her work and surroundings makes it a pleasure to have her with us.” Jeff Kimber - Company Manager, Adelaide Mushrooms (Nominees) Pty Ltd




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