Disability Works Australia


GTO and DWA Success in Action: Willson Wool

Customers at Willson Wool in the South Australian regional town of Clare are now so accustomed to James ‘Jimmy' Pluckrose scooting around the shed in his electric wheelchair; they ask after him if he is not there.

The 21-year-old lives on the family farm nearby and is working towards completing his rural traineeship, concentrating on the wool industry, so he can help with wool classing on the farm.

Jimmy said his wheelchair could get him into all sorts of places including cattle yards, sheep yards, and shearing sheds.

“Me and Dad were drafting rams out of a mob of sheep and one of the dogs got into the yard when it wasn't supposed to and of course the ram went mad and charged the chair and I got tipped over.”

“Dad said all he could see was my foot plate sticking up and he lifted the chair up for be but it was my fault because I should have been watching where the ram was going.”

Jimmy said he hoped to be able to ‘class' wool on his family farm and help his father as much as he could. Jimmy's duties at Willson Wool include examining the characteristics of the wool in its raw state by analyzing the breed of sheep, wool crimp, strength and colour.

Owner and manager of Willson Wool, Dave Willson said Jimmy had made it clear when he first started that he wanted to be treated like everyone else.

“He is known far and wide, people come in and ask after him if they don't see him”

“Jimmy always wants to be doing something and he's determined and persistent – if there is a tool right in the middle of the ute that we need he will go off to get it even though we tell him he wont reach it. He just says ‘you just watch me', off he goes and sure enough he comes back with it,” Dave said.

He said Jimmy was into his third year of working at the shed three days a week.

“He is great with the customers and he gets a fair bit of speed up in that chair of his, when we are busy he answers the phone and also helps support customers when they come in,” Dave said.

“I may take a bit longer than the others but I do get the job done,” Jimmy said.

Jimmy's position is subsidized by Commonwealth Government's funding through Statewide Group Training.

Statewide Group Training is an independent, community based not for profit organisation and is one of the largest employers of apprentices and trainees within South Australia .

Statewide Group Training entered into a partnership arrangement with Disability Works Australia (DWA), to combine strategic capabilities to place and support apprentices and trainees with a disability. Working with DW has increased recruit efficiencies as Statewide can actively recruit apprenticeships using DWA as a conduit to the DEN organisations within the state.

Willson Wool has received additional funds under the workplace modifications scheme to modify a toilet and purchase a wool sorting table to accommodate Jimmy's cerebral palsy.

Transport SA have also helped make the shed more accessible for Jimmy by laying bitumen at the entrance to the building after his wheelchair got stuck on the curb one day.

Jimmy was assisted into the position more than 2 years ago thanks to the co-operation between Disability Works Australia, Statewide Group Training and Disability Employment Network provider, Interwork.


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