Windarring fills space left by Radius

Elly and her daughter and Windarring participant Linda, Bendigo Windarring day services manager Phil Walsh, Windarring participant Alinta Miller, Peter Krenz Leisure Centre director Terri Potter and Windarring disability support worker Tony Smith.
Elly and her daughter and Windarring participant Linda, Bendigo Windarring day services manager Phil Walsh, Windarring participant Alinta Miller, Peter Krenz Leisure Centre director Terri Potter and Windarring disability support worker Tony Smith.

Linda is the happiest she has been in years, and mum Elly says its all thanks to disability support service provider Windarring.

Windarring formed in the 1970s and has been providing opportunities for people with disabilities across Kyneton, Castlemaine and Gisborne. 

But late last year, the closure of Bendigo’s Radius Disability Services opened up a need for the organisation to expand its services further north.

Windarring moved into Bendigo, providing supported employment in East Bendigo and its community participation program, or day services programs, towards the end of the year.

Now it also operates an outreach program providing support for people living in the community and runs interstate holidays.

“We opened up in late December and we started off with seven participants and now we’ve grown to 12 with two to three more participants to start in the following weeks,” said manager Phil Walsh of the day services.

“A lot of these participants had nowhere to go, so what we’ve been able to offer is similar programs to what they were doing at Radius plus adding on some new programs to achieve their goals.”

Linda has been a participant in the day services for the past three months and Elly said the change to Windarring had been a positive one. 

“Everybody is just so accommodating, they are just lovely people,” she said. 

“We found a place where Linda can fit in, everybody is different, everybody has different needs and they just go ahead and they do a fantastic job.”

Windarring’s day services operate out of the Peter Krenz Leisure Centre in Eaglehawk and a second facility in Golden Square. Programs include bowling, music, dancing and activities with Bendigo Riding for the Disabled.

Elly said the programs were fantastic for Linda.

“Everything they do there seems to be an unspoken understanding of what every client needs before they need it,” she said. 

“Linda’s the happiest she’s been in years – she’s loving it. She’s settling in, she’s interacting with people and she’s just happy in general, which is just so good.”

The Windarring-managed clothing recycling bins located in the Bendigo CBD Coles car park.

The Windarring-managed clothing recycling bins located in the Bendigo CBD Coles car park.

Six supported employees who made the transition to Windarring after the closure of Radius last year, along with one casual mentor, are based at Windarring’s Australian Disability Enterprise Bendigo site in Rohs Road.

Bendigo ADE manager Peter Young said Windarring was able to secure a partnership with the Southern Cross Recycling Group to form their recycling operation  

“This partnership with SCR sees our employees servicing 44 clothing recycling bins located as far north as Moama and to the South at Kyneton and Castlemaine,” he said. 

“Our major focus is the City of Greater Bendigo with bins in strategic locations at Strathfieldsaye, Golden Square, Eaglehawk, North Bendigo, Flora Hill, as well as central Bendigo.”

Employees pack the clothing and household goods into bales and from there, they are transported to the Southern Cross Recycling Group’s depot in Melbourne.

Any business wishing to host bins can contact Mark Castle on 0438 135 607 or Peter Young on 0488 553 929 for more information.

Barry’s story: From Radius to Windarring

Windarring supported employee Barry, with Windarring Bendigo Australian Disability Enterprise manager Peter Young. Picture: NONI HYETT

Windarring supported employee Barry, with Windarring Bendigo Australian Disability Enterprise manager Peter Young. Picture: NONI HYETT

Barry was left without a job after the closure of Bendigo’s Radius Disability Services late last year. ​Here, Barry shares his story about the transition from employment at Radius to being jobless and then finding work again with disability support service provider Windarring, which moved in to fill the space left by Radius.

Five years ago I moved to Bendigo and I started looking for work through the various disability employment agencies. 

The few that I went to were not suitable for my age or disability and because of this my mental state started to go backwards and I started to feel that I was useless and a burden to society.

I then can across Radius Environmental Services that was part of Radius Disability Services. I attended a few general meet and greets and really felt that this was the place for me.

At first I found it very hard to turn up for work as it had been over a decade since I had been able to work.

After a couple of months I was very settled and I had developed a strong mentor bond with my boss Peter Young. With his help and guidance I was able to see that my long term goals may very well be reachable. I wanted to be an asset and to be in a leadership position.

After a year I felt that I was in a position that felt right for me. Peter, on the other hand, felt that I could do better, so with his support I strived to achieve much more and because our relationship was solid, I achieved so much more than I had ever achieved in my total working life. 

Then without notice all my achievements over the last three and a half years were gone. 

Radius had to close its doors and I was out of a job. 

A job that was very important to me as it made me feel worthy; part of the community and was a major part of my mental health plan.

Straight away I started looking for work. I knocked on doors and applied for many jobs all of which proved pointless, nobody wanted to employ a person my age and with a disability to boot.

As the days turned to weeks my mental health was going downhill. All the positiveness that I had achieved with the help of my mentor, Peter, was turning dark. 

The darkness was becoming my friend again, I was feeling worthless; rejected; unworthy and suicidal. I started to just give up.

The employment rejections were starting to take a toll on my mental health. So basically the collapse of Radius lead the collapse of myself; my mental health and my relationships with family and friends. The “death of Radius” was becoming the “death of me”.

Then out of the blue Peter rang me and started talking about a new organisation that was setting up in Bendigo and he wanted me to help set up the branch here.

Through a lot of behind the scenes activity Windarring Bendigo was established and a business relationship that Peter had been involved with at Radius has transferred to Windarring.

Well once again I owe thanks to Peter for helping me achieve self-worth and with the formation of Windarring in Bendigo.

I now have a job.

It took a little while for the darkness to leave completely and for me to feel that I was once again in a happy place.

I am now working in a place that is more flexible than Radius, I have been able to have even bigger goals to strive for. 

With the help of Peter and Windarring chief executive Chris O’Connor I am able to see that in the near future I perhaps will be able to manage the Windarring Bendigo Clothing Recycling site.

While the fall of Radius was almost the death of me, I can truly say that Windarring is my saviour and without Peter’s guidance and support and behind the scenes activity I would have never been able to achieve what I have achieved.

  • If you or anyone you know needs help, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit www.lifeline.org.au.