Pathways to open employment

Leading South Australian wine packaging company REPACK is working to help to create pathways to open employment for people with disability.

The Ottoway-based business has taken on its first supported employee through Minda with Emma joining a team that processes more than one million cartons of wine through its specialised packing lines each year.

Starting out in September last year working one day a week, Emma’s confidence and skills have grown to the point where she is now rostered three days a week and is working towards a goal of moving into open employment.

“I’ve been learning packaging with a focus on how to do it quicker,” Emma says. “So hopefully I’ll get my speed up a bit and I’ve also been trying to learn new tasks so I can get better at them too.

“I thought if I could do more hours and learn new skills, open employment is something I could think about.”

REPACK processes wine from across South Australia and interstate, labelling, packaging and getting it ready to be dispatched to domestic and international markets.

Operations Manager Leigh Farrow says the former family-owned company became part of Minda two years ago and relocated from Regency Park to Minda’s Commercial Enterprises site on Grand Junction Road.

“Since then a real drive of ours is supported employment and how we can integrate that into our specialised business,” Leigh says.

“We have very diverse roles here in that someone can come in and from day one start doing basic labelling on a carton, then they can move to labelling on a bottle, move to bottles on machines and then on to the more intricate labelling that requires a lot of skills.”

Having Emma on board, he says, has been fantastic for the team.

“We’ve noticed already how her confidence has grown to the point where she says she wants try a new role and we support her in working up to that and soon enough she’s doing it by herself and playing an important role that she might not have thought she could do before.”

Working on a fast-paced production line that can process 4,000 bottles an hour – labelled, packed and ready for shipping – Emma’s skills are already transferrable to any workplace.

“She’s going to be super valuable to be able to pass those skills on to new employees as they come through and that’s not just for supported employees,” Leigh says.

“Our end goal is for her to work through the company and then look at open employment and doorways of opportunity.”