Jobs safe following sale of recycling facility that employs people with a disability

Picture: PAUL HARRIS
Picture: PAUL HARRIS

Employees of a Bendigo recycling facility that provides employment for people with a disability are assured they will keep their jobs following its sale to a commercial provider.

Disability services organisation Endeavour Foundation has sold its material recovery facility in East Bendigo to waste management and recycling company JJ Richards and Sons, which will take over operation of the facility from February 24.

Christy Hobbs, the Endeavour Foundation’s Victoria and New South Wales service delivery general manager, said the incoming company was well-placed to provide a sustainable recycling service, as well as partner with other existing recycling and resource recovery organisations in the area.

“JJ Richards and Sons will offer employment to all existing staff, and will continue to offer employment to existing supported employees through a labour-supply arrangement with a new disability employment organisation,” Ms Hobbs said.

The facility currently employs 17 staff and 18 supported employees.

Ms Hobbs said the decision to sell the facility was made following an extensive review that identified the facility would be more effectively run by a commercial operator.

The move was made in the interests of both the long-term sustainability of the facility, she said, and the employment of people with a disability.

“This decision has not been taken lightly, but our focus must remain on ensuring the Bendigo MRF can be run sustainably so that vital supported employment opportunities can continue to be offered,” Ms Hobbs said.

The Commonwealth’s Department of Social Services will hold an expressions of interest process to identify a another local supported employment provider for the employees with a disability.

The department will choose the new provider.

All existing pay rates, benefits and entitlements will transfer to the new provider.

“We are working closely with the department and will continue providing support and employment until each person with a disability has made a successful transition to new support arrangements,” Ms Hobbs said.

Endeavour Foundation has pledged to provide any assistance employees might need, beyond February 24 if necessary.

Ms Hobbs said it was anticipated at this stage that supported employees would be able to continue their current work under the new provider.

JJ Richards and Sons will employ other staff members directly.

The sale will mark the end of Endeavour Foundation’s work in central Victoria, although it will continue to have a presence in other parts of the state.