Disability no barrier to being a great leader

Dee-Jay shares how a can-do attitude and supportive team enabled her to work her way up to a supervisor role

Finding and keeping a job can be challenging when you live with disability – but Dee-Jay found that with the right opportunities and support she was able to learn new skills and find work that she loves. We asked her to share how she successfully moved from supported employment into a full-time supervisor role.

Hello, my name is Dee-Jay and I’m 31 years old. I have been working at Mambourin for 10 years now. My journey here at Mambourin started back in 2011 when I was 21 years old. At the start I was very shy and nervous but over time I opened up more and started making friends. After a while I started to love my new job so much that my supervisors believed I could become a role model to everyone else who worked at the warehouse, which for me was a really big step.

Everyone said I was ready for it, but for me myself I wasn’t quite ready for that step, but I took the leap anyway which resulted in me helping everyone out whether it was to do with work or not. I would give advice where I could and to anyone who asked me for it as well. As the years went by, I started to take on more leadership roles: I was becoming a lead worker which means I would step in if our supervisor wasn’t on the work floor or if they were away from work which would mean I would do the morning meeting with my fellow co-workers and also do the workboard which is where we would use our picture to allocate jobs to do for the day.

So, with this new role I’ll be honest, I did have a few bad days just like everyone else, but the good thing is that everyone believed in me which means the world to me because I will tell you that I have a learning disability myself which I have struggled with my whole life. But I have proven to myself, I never thought I would do it, but I did it anyway. I not only became a lead worker, but I also became an OH&S safety officer which was another big step I was ready for. This meant I had to do a course to understand it better which also meant more responsibility for me.

I became a receptionist which was another big step for me. I wasn’t sure if I was ready for it but I took the next step anyway, which meant more responsibility and a bigger role, so I would answer the phones, take messages, also do emails, photocopying, scanning which I really enjoyed doing. Then my next step was accepting the Parliament of Victoria Community Achiever’s Awards, which I was really surprised on. I was really shocked as well. It was amazing, I couldn’t believe it. It was definitely a very special day to remember always.

Dee-Jay stands at a podium making a speech

Dee-Jay makes a speech at the Parliament Community Achiever Awards

My next big step that really shocked me was when Brad Miller [MBS Manager] and Alan Wilkie [Production Supervisor] asked me if I would like to become a supervisor. I really couldn’t believe what I was hearing. After all my hard work over the last 10 years, I am now a full-time supervisor, which I do five days a week. I am no longer a supported employee. I have been a supervisor for about two to three months now which is amazing, but I understand that I will have some good days and bad days just like everyone else.

For me this is the best feeling in the world. I can’t believe this is actually happening to me after celebrating 10 years of being with Mambourin, I got this amazing job offer. I never in a million years thought would I ever become a supervisor at Mambourin but here I am, 31 years old and now a supervisor. This was not only a big step for me but also a bigger step for my relationship with my friends and with my boyfriend as well because I now have to be professional with both relationships while we’re at work. I can tell you it’s not going to be easy, but I am making it work.

I love working which is great. I love it so much and I am learning so much from [my colleagues] Alan, Lee, Tim, Matthew, Jake and Brad. I am grateful for getting to have this job offer. To be honest, I have never been so happy like this before. I am over the moon so you see even with my disability I don’t let it stop me from learning new skills or new jobs, and most importantly I don’t let anyone tell me that I can’t do anything just because I have a learning disability. I have proven to myself that I can do anything that I want to do, and I am so thankful to have so many people over the years to help me through primary school, high school, and now with my job at Mambourin.

Thank you


Interested in finding out more about employment pathways at Mambourin? Take a look at our MBS Employment page, call us on 9731 9200 or email hello@mambourin.org

Are you a business looking for commercial services? We can make a contribution to our community, together. Find out more about the benefits of working with our social enterprise, Mambourin Business Solutions (MBS). We open up opportunities for people living with disability. 

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