Hotel Etico, where holidays change lives

Episode 2 October 22, 2021 00:39:55
Hotel Etico, where holidays change lives
Breaking Barriers
Hotel Etico, where holidays change lives

Oct 22 2021 | 00:39:55


Show Notes

In this episode of Breaking Barriers, host Natalie Jones talks to the inspiring minds behind Australia’s first Hotel Etico - a social enterprise hotel that provides work and training for young people with intellectual disabilities. Discover how the team knocks down barriers and changes perceptions, while creating pathways to open employment.
Our guest is Stella Sgambellone, someone who has taken a step back from working in businesses driven by profit and decided she wants to make a real difference. As General Manager of Hotel Etico, Stella found her place, somewhere she can shift community perspective of people with intellectual disabilities.
● We meet Stella and hear her story and explanation of Hotel Etico. 1.52-3.49
● The background of Hotel Etico is explained, and Stella expands on the process of opening the hotel. 3.49-11.17
● The importance of shifting community perceptions of people with disabilities is explored. 11.17-15.37
● Trainee Development Manager Samantha and trainee Georgia discuss their experiences. 15.37-26.00
● Trainee and guest success stories are covered. 29.07-32.05
● Samantha and Georgia explain the impact of the work on their lives. 32.05-35.34
● Stella discusses the local community involvement. 35.34-38.31

“When you've got a perceived idea of somebody's capabilities, you create boundaries, and we want to knock down those boundaries. We want to be able to open up whatever opportunities are available so that people can flourish. And we want to demonstrate how to do that.”

“So, what I would say to potential employers is - when you're considering employing someone with a disability, or indeed anybody, it's really about opening up your mind to how they can add value to your organisation.”

“I think that's probably my favourite part of Hotel Etico, that we push and we see that potential and we get to bring that out of them with them. Not standing over the top of them and telling them that they can do better, but with them. That it's a mutual journey of seeing how much we can grow and what we can achieve in this space.”

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 1 00:00:08 This is breaking barriers, a new podcast from MatchWorks exploring remarkable stories about why work matters and how working is changing the lives of some incredible people. I'm Nat Jones. Well, we've just met a woman fleeing for her life. Who's turned to savior for others on their employment journey and a dragon Wrangler using the power of role-play to develop real world confidence now to a hotel with a heart, a social enterprise gateway, where visitors don't just check in. They give back, Speaker 2 00:00:44 Oh, it's been life-changing imagine that you could transform another person's life simply by treating yourself to a few days away. Speaker 1 00:00:56 It's autumn in Eastern Australia's iconic blue mountains situated 90 minutes west of Sydney. It's soaring sandstone cliffs, 10 times older than the grand canyon, an untouched forest field valleys draw tourists from around the globe. Right now it's a time of rebuilding for the close knit community. As it recovers from mother nature's brute force, the black summer Bush fires of 2020 have destroyed over 1 million hectors, some 80% of this world heritage site while torrential, rain and flooding in March, 2021 left the region declared a natural disaster zone on top of that travel bans and COVID have crippled the local tourism industry. And it's at this point, amid all the turmoil and uncertainty that Stella scam baloney takes on the biggest role of her career. Speaker 2 00:01:50 I reached to a point in my working life where I thought I really would like to do something more than work for businesses that are driven by profit. I wanted to work and make a difference. I wanted to get to the end of my working life and know that what I did made some sort of difference. So I actively sought out opportunities. And when I saw this role advertised, it was sort of me on a plate, really Speaker 1 00:02:19 The new role, general manager of hotel co Australia's, first social enterprise hotel, situated in the blue mountains, heritage listed town of Mount Victoria, its purpose to provide work training and live in opportunities for young people with intellectual disabilities, giving them a pathway to open employment. Speaker 2 00:02:42 When you've got a perceived idea of somebodies capabilities, you create boundaries and we want to knock down those boundaries. We want to be able to open up whatever opportunities are available so that people can flourish. And we want to demonstrate how to do that. So we are a social enterprise because what we're about is shifting community perspective. When it comes to disability, we're about providing employment and training. We have the hotel ethical independence program, and that provides on the job training and independent living opportunities to our trainees with disability. It's a fantastic opportunity for our colleagues is six of our trainees to be able to build their confidence, build their capacity for independence, have valuable experiences that are real world experiences. They're working alongside us. And it, and it's just transformative. Speaker 1 00:03:49 The vision for hotel etiquette came to life in 2006 in the ancient Italian city of Asti Nicola Walesa. A young boy with down syndrome, took on an internship at his local restaurant. Chef Antonio DiBenedetto could see his potential and ask Nicola, what was his dream to work in a hotel he replied and a movement was born. The first hotel etiquette opened in Asti in 2015, offering on the job training and coaching and life skills for young trainees. There are now seeks operating worldwide with more to come. Speaker 2 00:04:26 I don't think he realized at the time, but now that it's happening, it's delightful Speaker 1 00:04:32 From little things since its inception project echo has been presented at the European parliament, the Vatican and the United nations in Geneva as part of world down syndrome day trainees in some countries are traded like rock stars and there's even a documentary in the works. My big fat Italian kitchen, celebrating chef DiBenedetto, his quest to help people with disabilities reach their full potential opening. Australia's first hotel ETO during a global pandemic, Stella admits was a gamble, but an opportunity not to be missed. Speaker 2 00:05:10 We took a gamble and I think we will continue to take a gamble. That's the whole idea of, you know, when you're setting up new organizations, new businesses, there is always a level of risk. It's just about how you manage that level of risk and what your appetite is with that and how sensible you are about it. I'm always saying we are the first in Australia, so we're the first to do everything. So there is a lot of learning that goes with that and everything we do. It's the first of everything, it was exhausting. It was exciting. It was a whole mix of things, but looking back, you know, I think it's very rewarding when we engage with our trainees and we hear their stories. They're not just people who've applied for a position anymore. There are colleagues have actually become part of our team and they're very important people in our lives. So the more we get to know them, the more we build relationships within the team and with each other, it's making the whole journey so much more rich. It's been pretty amazing. Speaker 1 00:06:17 Stella. I hear there's something else at play apart from sheer tenacity, passion and determination. Tell me about the ETI Coburg. Speaker 2 00:06:26 Oh, I see. Kerrick bug. Well, it's um, it's an interesting one. It's not as, as scary as the COVID bug, it's actually a lot more pleasant. So when we were interviewing, there's always that one phrase that we were all looking for and it was not, I want to be part of this. I need to be part of this. So it was almost like, you know, when you, you hear that whenever our program managers, when I was interviewing them, I remember them saying, we don't just want to be about, we need to be part of a project like this. So, um, yeah, the AC Coburg is really when you meet new people and you tell people about what we're doing and what our, what our end game is, I guess people just catch it. People love it. They want to be part of it. They want to support it. Speaker 2 00:07:24 It's a following in Italy, they call it the revolution. I was invited to be interviewed by our local radio station in the blue mountains. And I brought along with me, two of our training managers and, um, a trainee Katrina, one of our trainees, Katrina, Jay and Joshua and Harry. And we were talking about the culture that has been created in new Chico. And Katrina said, well, for me, it feels like a professional family. And when she said it, we all looked at each other and thought, that's just precisely what it feels like for all of us, because we in our organization are all incredibly hard workers. And there are lots of long hours and late nights and exhaustion, but amongst all that, you're part of a team where you're working side by side and there's enough friendliness to feel like family, but there is that expertise that comes into it that represents the professionalism. So it's quite a lovely descriptor that, that Katrina had come up with. Speaker 1 00:08:32 Oh, did I mention that Stella's not only had to start up her first hotel. She had to find somewhere to put it and therein lies another ATO bug moment among first funders for the project was the Vincent Fairfax family foundation. An organization that's operated as a charitable trust since 1962, as it turns out Mount Victoria Manoj was built in 1876 by John R Fairfax, founder of the Sydney morning Herald. And it was a synchronous moment. As family members took a walk through the property ahead of hotel, Eddie CO's launch, Speaker 2 00:09:09 It was Ruth Armitage, who is a Fairfax descendant, came up to the Manor for a tour. And it was quite beautiful watching her walking through the hallways and in the open areas. And she sort of looked around and thought, wow, this is history. This is great. Great, great, great. Great-grandfather built this as a country retreat and now look what this building has become. It's going to be the home of something that's quite groundbreaking in Australia. So it was a beautiful moment for her. Um, and it's yeah, it is a closing of the cycle for the Fairfax family, because it started with John Fairfax and it's, I guess, being perpetuated through Vincent Fairfax family foundation support of us Speaker 1 00:09:57 As research shows. Employment is one of the most direct and empowering paths to sustainable independence in order to find her inaugural trainees, Stella reached out to a recruitment specialist. She could trust MatchWorks one of Australia's largest providers of job active and disability employment services match works just like project Eddie co believes that everyone has a right to work as part of the nonprofit genu family. It's all about giving back reinvesting into the community to help Australians lead better lives. Speaker 2 00:10:33 So we seek to partner and engage with other organizations who have the same values that we do. And prior to kicking off our recruitment, I connected with Carly and Anthony from MatchWorks to say, this is who we are. This is what we're about. And we would love to I'd love an opportunity, but for us to be able to connect and work together and they were fantastic. And so it was MatchWorks playing a part in a recruitment process and supporting what we were trying to do. Speaker 1 00:11:08 I hear that the audition process raised some troubling insights around discrimination in past employment for some of the workers. Tell me about that. Speaker 2 00:11:19 We were establishing the expectations of employees and we were talking about making sure that you're arriving on time and conduct while you're on the job and the kind of appearance and all that kind of thing. And when we talked about making sure you're arriving on time and expressing all those details, one of our trainees was very perplexed. And Sam who you'll talk to shortly, she asked him, hasn't anyone spoken to you about this sort of stuff before? And didn't you, didn't your previous employer talk to you about this? And he said, no. And what became apparent for us was because he was a young man with a disability. While that employer was doing its best to provide employment, they didn't recognize that trainees value enough to set expectations, basic expectations about riding on time, proper conduct, proper appearance, things like that because it, because he had a disability, it was just enough in their view to be providing him with a job. Speaker 1 00:12:34 What are the misconceptions around hiring a person with a disability, Stella what's the negative side? What do some people get wrong? Speaker 2 00:12:43 I think really what it comes down to is boundaries. People have a perception of what someone's ability or disabilities. There are boundaries that are put into place, whether they are conscious or subconscious. That is the main thing. It comes down to what someone's idea of is of what you can do and how you can contribute in their organization. Um, when I was at a recent event, I was talking about open employment for our trainees once they graduate. And I was talking to a potential employer, and the comment that was made was, I don't think I can put someone like that on because there would be so much more, um, time investment and it would cost me money. And my response was initially when you employ anybody, do you expect them to be up and running right from the word, go from day one? Do you expect someone to be completely up to speed? Speaker 2 00:13:49 And the answer was well, no, of course not. Well, it's no different, you know, sometimes you may need to work out a different way of doing stuff, but the time investment to bring a new employee up to speed, it's the same for everybody. It's just a couple of extra steps for someone with different abilities. So I think really the main thing is, is breaking down barriers and perceived ideas. So what I would say to potential employers is when you're considering employing someone with a disability, or indeed anybody it's really about opening up your mind to how they can add value to your organization. So Speaker 1 00:14:37 What should we be thinking? What, what can we change in that approach? Speaker 2 00:14:42 It comes down to our perceived thoughts when it comes to people with different abilities, I guess, through different life experience, we learn to have a certain reaction. And I guess, changing those reactions is what's really important. It's about stopping yourself and saying, well, I think just the example that I just gave now about that particular person. So that was a perceived reaction. That was a perceived thought. And in that one moment, everything changed. So I guess that's what it comes down to. It's just perceptions shifting community perspective when it comes to people with disability. Speaker 3 00:15:28 Hi, I'm Smith MCI, and I'm the program manager at hotel Etsuko, I'm in the blue mountains and Mount Victoria. Uh, and my job involves creating, uh, implementing and facilitating our wonderful independence program and Harris related careers. So we have, um, the sort of independent living side of it, as well as the employment and, uh, job skill side of it as well. And I worked very closely with the hospitality trainees. Uh, and today we have one of them joining us, Georgia Davidson, Speaker 1 00:16:00 Georgia. Tell us a bit about yourself Speaker 4 00:16:03 Too. I'm Georgia and I'm the wine or the hospitality trainees. I'll be a Mac Victoria. Speaker 1 00:16:11 How are you enjoying the new job? What do you like about it? Speaker 4 00:16:15 Oh, I meeting with friends up there. It's fun to be with, including with the two down, like with Sam and, um, and Stella. They are amazing. Speaker 1 00:16:27 I hear that you're also a performer at heart and that you've been on stage in productions. Like the wedding singer. We will rock you. What is it about performing and acting that you love so much? Speaker 4 00:16:40 So it is my passion and I did it through with, with theater and that's when I got my B ever big production. Yeah. Speaker 1 00:16:51 And did you ever think you'd end up working in a hotel as well? Speaker 4 00:16:56 Yeah, I was shocked that happened. Why? When I'm salmon still, I wanted me to, to do it with, and I was very excited, but I got bit a bit, a bit emotional as well. Speaker 1 00:17:11 Why? Because you were happy. Yes. And why did you end up taking the job at hotel etiquette? Speaker 4 00:17:19 It's really fun to do it because I, I wanted to take part of it and I actually love to do with like lots of stuff, like being, being in the academy or being an album, a hotel, we do like bill every thing. Speaker 1 00:17:36 What is it that you thought, oh yeah, if I take this job, I might be able to achieve this. Like, what did you hope for when you took the job? Speaker 4 00:17:44 I was worried, excited at first and then, and then I got through it all and it was so amazing. Speaker 1 00:17:54 Has it lived up to your expectations? Yes, Sam, can I ask you a couple of questions as well? In your own words, how has Georgia doing Speaker 3 00:18:05 Georgia for us? Her shit, first of all, has been amazing, but she's someone who constantly surprises myself and all of the staff at hotel echo. I think on the very second day we asked, um, usually they're working some teams and we asked Georgia if she'd be a part of the dishwashing team after lunch. And she jumped on in there and smashed it out all by herself, she absolutely was completely independent in the task and did an excellent job. She's got one of the hardest work ethics I've ever seen. Um, she's really committed to doing a good job, um, as well as a timely job, Speaker 1 00:18:42 What would you say George's super skill is Speaker 3 00:18:46 Georgia has an amazing ability. She's an absolute people person and she has an amazing ability to make everyone feel included in this space. Anyone who walks in the room or jumps on a zoom, she's like, oh, hi, how are you going? And immediately greets everyone by name and has a giant smile waiting for everyone. So I think that would be probably the best quality in Georgia. And she really brings, brings that lovely energy to the team and to the hotel. And it's noticeable when, when she's not there, Speaker 1 00:19:16 How are the others going in their jobs? Speaker 3 00:19:19 Oh, goodness, look, I've worked in, in the disability sector for a long time and I'm constantly surprised and I've learnt very early on never to underestimate anybody with a disability because they will constantly surprise you or what they can do and what they're willing to challenge themselves to do. I think, um, we all have something to learn from our trainees when it comes to resilience and perseverance and determination because they will keep going. They'll pick themselves up, they'll make the mistake on. They'll learn and try again. So without, without a word of encouragement or, you know, um, prompting from staff or team members, so that I think they're all doing extremely well. Speaker 1 00:20:04 Sam, why did you apply for the job with Atty co what appealed to you about working in Australia's first social enterprise hotel? Speaker 3 00:20:14 So for me, um, I've always compared it to, you know, everyone has that drain right there, dream where if they won the lotto and those millions and millions of dollars, they'd, they'd do something with it. And for me, this is probably almost exactly what my dream would be is to have a, have a space where skills can be learned, the environment is inclusive and everyone's supporting one another to become the best versions of themselves in the way they want to become the best version of themselves, not just what you, uh, limited society has to offer, but anything is possible. Any dream can come true, um, as you just have to dream it. So for me, it's not, it wasn't a matter of wanting to be a part of it. I needed to be a part of it when I, when I, um, heard about it, when I first met stellar at a breakfast meeting one, one morning, um, and I heard about hotel indigo and what they're all about, I needed to be on this journey. Speaker 1 00:21:13 The heart of project echo is the academy of independence, a specialized program, incorporating private living quarters that allows trainees to learn everyday life skills on their pathway to open employment in dedicated apartments at the hotel on their roster, days on students do their own washing, make their own beds and cook their own meals. All within a peer-based supportive setting for many it's their first time away from home a challenge, not only for the students, but their loved ones too. Speaker 2 00:21:47 When you think about the memories of when you move out for the first time and what that feels like, there's so many emotions that come with it. And to an extent, this is a very safe way of experiencing that. It's fantastic. It's exciting. It's well-planned, but we understand there are there opportunities for growth and evolution and development. And so our families have really supported us in that process and providing great feedback. So in terms of settling in and things like that, that partnership, that communication has been really wonderful, Speaker 1 00:22:28 Georgia back to you. How did you feel about moving into the hotel to work and live away from your family? What were some of your worries at the time Speaker 4 00:22:39 I'm getting gears to right now? And I'm very happy to do it by the part of the hotel. It, it's not that far from where I am at the moment. I just love being there. And it's really fun to, to be with around Sam his wall. Um, so he's always like really nice and she knows what to do and she's really lovely to be with. Well, Speaker 1 00:23:06 What about your parents? How did they feel when you left? Speaker 4 00:23:10 I think they been upstairs me to see me go. Yeah. Speaker 1 00:23:16 Were they a bit worried about how you'd go as well? Speaker 4 00:23:20 Ah, yeah. Speaker 1 00:23:22 And what advice did they give you? Speaker 4 00:23:24 Um, just take my time and I think they're okay now and I'm really happy to, to do it too. And yeah. Speaker 1 00:23:36 Did they say that you've changed as a person since you started working at the hotel? Speaker 4 00:23:42 Yeah. I think the way that I, I feel about it when I am chained that the Y I M I feel what's been going on. I'm happy to change my life around India. Speaker 1 00:24:01 Well, you happy to gain a sense of your own independence as well from your parents? Speaker 4 00:24:06 I, yes. Yeah. Speaker 1 00:24:08 And Sam, back to you, how are the others adapting to independent living? Speaker 3 00:24:13 It's been amazing to watch this journey of how they've then transitioned into this. All right. Okay. This is real. And I spend a lot of time with these people, and not only do I spend a lot of time with these people, but then I work, I work with them and then I have to, I'm seeing them after my shift as well, and negotiating, sharing a bedroom when bathrooms are not that sort of stuff. So for some of their guys, it has been a real challenge and I find the academy, the most challenging part. Um, but when you ask them, like, is, is it, is it good? Do you think it's a good thing? Or do you think it's probably pushing you too far? I always get the response of, you know, no, I'm learning lots. Like, you know, it's challenging, don't get me wrong. It's the hard part, but I'm learning lots and it's probably the best part for me. So, um, yeah. And, and the other guys, some of them have just taken to it seamlessly. Speaker 1 00:25:01 What do they say? It's the reward for, um, Phil independent living, Speaker 3 00:25:07 You know, there's the sense of exhaustion at the end of the day, but at the same time they've done it all they can say with confidence that, you know, now I did this and, you know, I did this as independently as I could possibly could. So that's sort of the reward, but also like the social side of it as well that they've got these friendships and relationships that, you know, they're building and working on and negotiating. And it's so much more than just, you know, some like a surface level colleague, um, colleague to colleague relationship where they have to really do negotiate with one another and, you know, be aware of each other's feelings and, you know, context and all of that sort of stuff. So, yeah, Speaker 1 00:25:51 80 hotel Ethica hospitality, interns are in training 184 have graduated with 68% moving on to open employment. So how do they actually learn the tools of the trade? Well, that's where the download method comes in. Pretty much learning through direct experience and field observation, basically a whole lot of information that's ingested or downloaded during work training that can lie to be applied to home life and living independently. So Speaker 2 00:26:23 The download method is the training. The way training was developed in, in the Italian 80 CO's once they realized what an amazing opportunity it was to be able to provide employment for, for young men and women with disability, they developed a way of training and they continued doing internships in the restaurant environment and the way they describe it, as you know, when you think about, uh, you hire a movie or you buy a movie and you download it to your TV, that's what the D that's where the term was coined. That's how it was coined. It's just that process of downloading information. And this is what learning on the job learning is about. It's about downloading information to your brain and, um, and learning new things. Speaker 3 00:27:16 I guess, the download method on that sort of surface level is that on the job in the moment being present, sort of, um, skills training, things like in the kitchen, preparing a dish, a particular item on our menu, or, um, in the, behind the bar, you know, learning how to make coffees, that sort of stuff, or in housekeeping, perfecting that hospital corner, all that stuff is on the job in person. And, and it's that repeating and getting the pointer and fixing it up and trying again. And the benefit of that is it's not only are they doing that, um, and improving their skills, but they're, they're doing it in a purposeful way. They're not just in, in one broom, you know, fixing one bed over and over and over again, they're actually contributing and adding value to the business because they get to go to all the different rooms and, and fix up those hospital cons. They get to prepare, you know, 20 different meals in the night. So then, you know, it's purposeful, meaningful, and adding value to the community. And to themselves Speaker 1 00:28:20 Reality, there's a bit of a gray area as to who is really teaching who at hotel etiquette. Speaker 2 00:28:27 They make us laugh every single day. They come up with the funniest things. There's not a day goes by where you don't end up laughing your head off by something they say or do. So if you ask Josh a question and he wants to buy some time, he'll say, oh, that's a good question. Maybe he needs a bit of extra time. You go. That's a really good question. And do you know, I do that all the time. It's fantastic Speaker 1 00:28:58 That contagious, Eddie Kobach, Stella, the energy, has it also rubbed off on guests. Speaker 2 00:29:04 Oh, indeed. It has. From the feedback that we're receiving guests, absolutely loving the experience. And they're loving being met by our trainees and being shown through the hotel. They're loving the stories that are coming out and they're loving the idea of us challenging their perceived thoughts. Uh, so this is what's wonderful for us because we see all those thought transformations happening. And, and then little moments of gold for us. We had some guests that stayed with us and I was lucky enough to farewell. Then one Sunday and they had booked us. It was like a last booking that we're driving through and their way when their way back on a driving road trip from Dubbo. And they were from tare, they owned a large medical practice. And they said to me, we've spent literally 12 hours with you. We've had dinner with you overnight. We've stayed and you've changed our lives. What you've done is you've shown us how possibilities to have an inclusive working environment. And they said, when we get back today, when we're back at work this week, we're going to reach out to our local DDS disability employment service, and start the ball rolling to employ someone who's got a disability. That's amazing. That was a moment for us. That was quite exciting. Speaker 1 00:30:30 As for hotel Eddie co success stories. Well, you can't go past the twins. Speaker 2 00:30:36 So one of our trainees, Jacob is a twin and his twin brother is Joshua. So Jacob is part of our independence program. And Joshua has employment elsewhere. When he goes home. He is, he's a very quiet personality, but when he goes home, he's now become very vocal about his experiences. And he's often communicating with his brother and talking about things that are happening with his brother and what has happened through him, developing his independence capacity. It's actually transferred over to Joshua as well. So they're both experiencing the benefit and in their world, the parent is the person who writes the schedule for the family. And he decided he was going to start writing his own schedule, his own schedule for the week. That is incredible because what whereabouts is independence, where about really helping the trainees that we work with, find their independence and build their capacity for independence. And the fact that he is grabbed the bull by the horns and said, right, I'm taking, I guess, control of my week is just amazing. This is exactly what we're about, Speaker 1 00:31:55 Georgia back to you. How has this job changed your life for the better? Speaker 4 00:32:01 I think it's good that, um, it's changed my life with the hotel is that I will love it actually. And it's fun to be with some the print that, that I, that I work with Speaker 1 00:32:19 Back to you, Sam, how has this job changed your life for the better Speaker 3 00:32:25 Seeing the potential of what's, you know, social enterprise can do and, um, can make a difference in people's lives, I think is, is huge. But this job in particular, with, at the hotel and with the trainees, I think it is sort of put, making sure that that whatever service or whatever job I'm doing, it is looking at that holistic person. It's not just that one sided. Yeah. You can focus and have a goal and work towards that. But I think if you let the other sides of things fall down, or you're not, you're not considering them. I mean, in the grand scheme of things, it really isn't an effective, or, you know, a meaningful way of, of providing a service. Speaker 1 00:33:04 And how has work changed your life in unexpected ways? What are some good surprises about your part of the job Speaker 3 00:33:14 When you asked Georgia that question? It made me think immediately to our team and our team are, and as we advertise, um, or for our program are an amazing team of hospitality professionals, experts in their own fields, whether they're they're hour shifts through shifts, kitchen, hand, housekeeper, you receptionist. They are experts in their own fields. And none of them ever had any experience working with someone with a disability before and their absolute determination and positivity when taking on this, their role within our hotel just amazes me every day. How no point does anyone go? This is too hard. They always come up and find me or a support worker and go, how do I, how do I make this better? How can I be better? Or how can I improve myself so that I can make sure I'm teaching or, um, you know, mentoring these trainees properly and giving them the best I have to offer, um, that has absolutely blown me away. Speaker 1 00:34:20 What does it feel like to have such valuable impact on someone's life by helping them at hotel Attica? Speaker 3 00:34:27 I think for me, I always loved no matter what client or circumstance I was working, you know, who I'm working with, you're the person that listens or you're the person that actually hears what that person knew, you know, what the person has to say or has to offer. And you see that and you see their potential and you, you challenge that for them and you don't just let it slide or think, are they, you know, that's, it's not worth pursuing or that sort of thing. I think that's probably my favorite part of hotel EDCO is that we push, um, and you know, we see that potential and we get to bring that out of them, with them not standing over the top of them and telling them that they can do better, but with them that it's a, it is a, a mutual journey of seeing how much we can grow and, and what we can achieve in this space, Speaker 1 00:35:25 Uh, social revolution, where the life experiences just keep on coming as part of their internships trainees also get to work on exciting projects, including styling and apartment the hotel. That means choosing all the color schemes, doing budgets, a peach, and even carrying out the project themselves. And remember those devastating Bush fires and floods. We talked about at the beginning of the podcast. Well, that's all coming full circle in a hotel Agnico Mount Victoria, community uplift evening, a night of food and entertainment that students will plan and host along with staff. It's an important part of Eddie CO's ethos to give back to the local community of Mount Victoria that has suffered so much hardship. Speaker 2 00:36:11 So the blue mountains, as with lots of other regions has been hard hit. The thing about us being located in that Victoria is way part of an incredible community. And the community has really come behind us to support us in establishing ourselves and, you know, program. We have what we call project based learning activities. And one of our project based learning activities is a community event. And it's a way of us giving back to our community who has supported us to establish ourselves. And it's a really beautiful way for the trainees to be learning about the skills, you know, planning, events, planning, menus, selling tickets, things like that, through the engagement with that project, then learning, but they're also really giving back as well. Speaker 1 00:37:10 And perhaps the most important message of all to change community attitudes around the value of a neuro diverse workforce Speaker 2 00:37:19 For us, a big thing is about shifting community perspective when it comes to people with disability. And not only that, I think community's really what connects us, right? So the more opportunity we have to be engaged with one another, the more opportunity we have to grow and evolve. So for us, it's so important to become part of a community, but indeed, to grow it and evolve it as well. And the locals have been wonderful with us. It really is a community where you're on a first name basis. You walk down the street and you know, the people who own the shops and you go and buy your coffee. And you're greeted by name and the trainees who travel to, and some of our trainees to travel to and from, by public transport, our community know who our trainees are, and they're very welcoming and supportive. That's, what's important for us. Speaker 1 00:38:32 Uh, disability, inclusion, revolution, all that is still in the words of now famous chef DiBenedetto. A problem is only solved when it is no longer a problem we made the first step, but there's still a long way to go. He says the good news, this now talk of Eddie co hotels, opening in Melbourne and Canberra. Another step towards empowerment and inclusivity on the road to worldwide positive social change. Speaker 1 00:39:11 Stick around next. We meet two young men who went for gold on the job front. And one, how did they succeed in a fiercely competitive multi-billion dollar sports industry to find a sense of belonging? And why does one of them now have his own football fan club? Breaking barriers is a podcast production from MatchWorks Australia's trusted employment specialists connect today. Change tomorrow. If you found value in this episode, subscribe and share. So we can keep telling these inspiring stories and for more on MatchWorks log on to dot a U forward slash breaking barriers. I'm not Jones. Thanks so much for listening.

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