Have you used CoAct VisAbility’s Disability Employment Service (DES) to secure work? If so, chances are you will have met Team Leader Jason Rowland.
Jason is proud of his team and the service he provides. Our DES service has been given a 4 star rating under the government’s Star Rating system. It highlights our level of commitment and exemplary service to clients. We help individuals to secure work, but our support doesn’t stop there. We offer guidance and encouragement to clients throughout the duration of employment.
Jason knows better than most about the challenges facing vulnerable people, because of his personal life experience.
“I had a severe anaphylactic shock (link opens in new window) just days before I turned 21 and underwent resuscitation three times. I woke two days later in intensive care, without any idea who I was.”
It was a pivotal point in Jason’s life and started him on a new journey.
“It’s not until you’re in this type of situation that you understand how challenging it can be. That life experience made me who I am.”
Jason Rowlands, Team Leader, CoAct VisAbility DES
Jason and his colleagues foster a team environment that is 100% supportive of clients. People have the same employment officer throughout their DES journey, for better continuity.
“People ask what sets the VisAbility CoAct Disability Employment Service apart from other similar DES Services – it’s our level of commitment. We go the extra mile to establish a close rapport,” he explains.
“Yes, we’re here to find people work, but we do more than that. You’ll find us talking to a range of different organisations and businesses outlining what we do. We work with schools to help leavers with sensory disabilities to find employment. More than that – we educate employers. We help employers understand the benefits of placing someone with a disability into their workforce.”
Disability Employment Services (DES) is an initiative established by the Australian Government to help people with an injury, illness, or disability to secure a job.
Jason’s turbulent early twenties
Jason learned that the anaphylactic shock he’d experienced was an unusual adverse reaction to caffeine.
“At that time, I was 120kg. It was my body telling me that I needed to change my lifestyle.”
Indeed, things did change – more dramatically than Jason was expecting. Following the anaphylactic shock, he woke up in intensive care with no memory whatsoever.
“Can you imagine? The hospital staff brought my parents into my room and said: ‘These are your parents’. I didn’t recognise them; it was hard to comprehend.”
Jason, Team Leader, CoAct VisAbility DES
Jason explains he had no recollection of his personal history.
“I didn’t know about social etiquette and what was acceptable to say and what wasn’t or the basic understanding of what was right and what was wrong.”
“At the time, I was living in a granny flat next to the family home. My parents were supportive but struggled with how much I had changed,” he adds.
“I was a blank slate without a personality. My experiences over the next few years shaped who I became. I like to think it gave me the warmth and compassion to work in the disability sector. I don’t like people falling through the cracks because I’ve been there and know what it’s like.”
Before Jason’s memory loss, he’d been studying a Cert III in Warehousing and had received his forklift ticket. After his accident, he’d forgotten how to do this. Jason started working in administration for Westrek Foundation, an agency working with young people at risk.
“It was rewarding to work in an industry where I was making a difference, but it was a difficult period where I struggled with my mental health and depression.”
Joining CoAct’s VisAbility Disability Employment Services
The turning point came in his mid-twenties with support from his sister and his new partner. Jason started undertaking some voluntary work with the Gay and Lesbian Community Services of WA – now known as Living Proud. He fitted this around his day job and study.
His next job was with the Cerebral Palsy Association before joining a Disability Employment Services (DES) group. Over seventeen years, he progressed from administrative assistant to assistant manager.
Jason joined VisAbility CoAct’s DES at the beginning of 2020.
“It is a boutique service. We are a close-knit team, and as well as supporting our clients we support each other. We get to know people as individuals, listen to their goals, their strengths and abilities, so we place them in a perfectly suited role.”
It is through this approach that CoAct VisAbility has been assessed as a 4 Star Agency under the government’s Star Rating system.
“You see people come out of their shells. It’s a cliche, but you do see them grow and flourish and enjoy a greater level of independence. They’re in a role they enjoy, earning a good wage and have that stability.”
Jason, Team Leader, CoAct VisAbility DES
Want to find out more?
VisAbility’s CoAct Disability Employment Services can help secure work for people who have:
- Low vision or people who are blind
- Deafness or hearing difficulties
- Sensory issues and long-term pain disorders
- Autism or Attention Deficit Disorder
- Specific needs – such as people who use a wheelchair
If you are a job seeker and want to discover what we can offer, visit Disability Employment Services or get in touch with us today.