Steve (right) with Pam Rutledge (middle) and teacher Wayne Petersen (left)
By Grant J Everett
Steven Fitzgerald is one of the employees at Prestige Packing Co Harris Park. Flourish Australia runs the Prestige Packing factory as one its community businesses, and it primarily employs people with a mental health issue who have either been out of work for a long time or never worked at all. Steve was happy to discuss his work role…
PANORAMA: Hi Steve, thanks for speaking with us. What do you do here?
STEVE: I’m a worker bee!
P: A worker bee?
STEVE: Yes, from the worker caste. It’s my job to make sure the manual labour gets done.
P: So what kind of tasks do you do?
STEVE: Well, we mostly take things out of big boxes and place them into smaller boxes…
P: And how long have you been working here?
STEVE: About four or five years now.
P: That’s quite a while. How did you initially connect up with Prestige Packing?
STEVE: I had a social worker while I was living in the CHIPS cottages (at Cumberland Hospital). She arranged for me to have a job interview, and I’ve been here ever since.
P: So do you get much out of being here? Does it give you a sense of satisfaction?
STEVE: I do, yes. After a shift I feel like I’ve accomplished something. I’m telling you, I’ve had periods in my life where I’ve just sat in the house and done nothing. It’s extremely boring. It’s good to have something to do with your life. I think it’s important to have a job.
P: Certainly. And you’ve also been building towards your future, haven’t you? I understand you’ve recently completed a Certificate III in Warehousing Operations.
STEVE: That’s correct. I hope it opens up some job opportunities in the future.
P: So, at present, are you interested in moving towards a better role? A job in open employment, perhaps?
STEVE: Perhaps. Yeah. I’ll consider all my options, and see what comes up for me.
P: Are you connected up with any jobseeker programs?
STEVE: Not as yet, but it’s certainly something I’ll look into.
P: Seeing as though you’ve earned a Cert III in Warehousing, is this the only field you’d consider working in? Or would you think about working in other fields?
STEVE: I’d keep my options open. If it was a job that holds some kind of interest for me, then yeah. I’d at least consider plenty of things.
P: It’s good to have an open mind like that. You never know what will suit you best unless you try it.
STEVE: There’s a whole world of opportunities out there.
P: Do you have any goals or dreams? Is there anything you want to experience or accomplish?
STEVE: Hmmm…goals and dreams…well, I’d like to get married and settle down at some point. It’s a box I certainly haven’t ticked off yet. But I’m still hoping!
P: We were talking just before about the upcoming Flourish Australia Radio project. Funnily enough, it turns out that you were studying radio broadcasting at University at one point.
STEVE: Yes, that’s correct, I studied Radio Production and Television Production back in the day.
P: And what did that involve?
STEVE: Well, we’d broadcast live on the student radio program. We could play whatever songs we wanted the listeners to hear. Basically, it was a chance to dip your toe into the entire radio industry.
P: Your whole life shouldn’t be work. What do you get up to for fun?
STEVE: I love to go to the movies. I prefer the action/comic book type stuff. It holds my interest better than the other genres out there.
P: I take my wife to those sorts of movies all the time. I think I currently owe her about forty chick flicks…
Well, thanks for speaking with us, Steve, and we hope to hear all the good news when you move onto a new career.
Prestige Packing Co., 23-25 Station Street West, Harris Park, NSW 2150
(02) 9393 9170