Getting a job has been on Faith Zadro’s mind a long time.
Faith is a young woman with Down syndrome who is supported by SSI’s Local Area Coordination (LAC) program. After three years as a participant, Faith has finally achieved her goal of gaining employment.
Faith Zadro and her co-worker preparing for dinner service at Hotel Etico.
SSI’s LAC program helps NDIS participants navigate the NDIS with confidence. The coordinators work with participants to create, implement and review their NDIS plans.
Faith is two weeks into her traineeship at Hotel Etico, Australia’s first social enterprise hotel. At Hotel Etico, staff with intellectual disabilities are trained to work in a hospitality environment and are assisted in their journey to independence through a part-time live-in arrangement.
The Hotel Etico placement is the result of the determination of Faith, her family, SSI Local Area Coordinator, Vivienne, and support coordinator, Sharyne.
Over the past three years Faith has been diligently working towards her goal of employment by participating in training courses, learning new skills and the essentials of independence through SSI’s LAC program.
This journey was not always easy.
“Faith was getting frustrated because she was doing all these small training tasks, like cleaning her room, cooking in the kitchen, doing travel practice, [and] working with others, but it didn’t have an employment outcome,” said Faith’s mother, Monica.
After being put in contact with Vivienne, Faith felt there was hope for a tangible outcome after all the work she had been putting in. Vivienne collaborated with Faith’s support coordinator Sharyne, spoke directly to Faith about her aspirations and demonstrated a commitment to helping Faith realise her ambitions.
“Vivienne allowed us to maintain our vision of reaching our long-term goal. She understands, there is empathy there. If LACs don’t understand their client’s disability and personality, they have no chance of seeing their possibilities,” said Monica.
She also emphasised the important role their support coordinator Sharyne has played.
“Having a support coordinator to communicate with both the LAC and providers is critical to ensure that clients’ needs are met and goals are achieved.”
“When Faith got the placement, she put her arms around me and said, ‘Mum I did it, I did it.’”
Hotel Etico offers training in all the disciplines required to work in hospitality: room and table service, reception, administration, and kitchen work. So far, Faith has been trained in how to take orders and to serve food and drinks to the customers in the restaurant.
“My favourite part is the people,” said Faith.
Monica said it had been an encouraging experience for Faith to work alongside others who had faced similar barriers and who had similar goals.
Faith’s ultimate goal is to work behind the scenes in the restaurant as a chef. This year, in her last semester of training, Faith will be learning how to work in the kitchen. However, she has already had a taste of being a chef. On her first day of the placement, Faith was invited into the kitchen to help make a lasagne.
“The chef told Faith, ‘You have done a fantastic job, because everything was placed perfectly.’ Encouragement like that means a lot in any job,” said proud mum, Monica.
Faith is confident that the Hotel Etico traineeship is a step towards her goal of living independently and becoming a chef.
SSI is partnered with the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) to deliver LAC services in NSW. As an LAC provider, SSI supports people aged 7 - 64 to access the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and other mainstream services in the community. For more information and to find out if you’re eligible for NDIS support, visit our LAC webpage.