Project Manager Gerrard Gosens at MAX Solutions National Support Centre, QLD.
Born with a congenital eye disease, Gerrard Gosens knows how difficult it can be to find work with a physical disability. From job seeker to MAX Solutions Project Manager, and Patron for International Day of People with Disability, Gerrard is helping to enrich the lives of others living with disability, breaking down barriers to employment.
Gerrard said MAX Solutions Managing Director Deborah Homewood was initially surprised to meet the three time Paralympian, motivational speaker and Dancing with the Stars semi-finalist at MAX Employment Toowong two and a half years ago.
“I went to a function and I started interviewing one of the politicians. Afterwards, Deb came up to me and asked what I did, and what I wanted to do in the future.”
Ms Homewood invited Gerrard in for an interview at MAX Solutions one week later, and the rest is history.
Gerrard said he was excited to be offered a role at MAX, one of the largest providers of Disability Employment Services (DES).
“I saw an opportunity to really make a difference in the perception of people with disability and I am truly appreciative that MAX has provided me with this opportunity.”
With a family owned chocolate shop in the heart of Brisbane’s CBD, Gerrard knows the challenges employers face when hiring new staff.
“I was coming from three sides; being an employer, having a physical disability, and being on this side of the fence where I could assist at MAX to break down perceptions of what jobs people with disability could have, and what they could achieve.”
“Not just people with no or low vision, but any disability.”
Changes to the DES program this year means customers have more control over who their provider is and the servicing available to them. Gerrard said he’s thrilled to be a part of DES as the program moves in this new direction.
Gerrard is key in DES consultative committee meetings conducted by MAX, where customers are invited to give feedback on MAX services.
“The consultative committees are a great opportunity to really engage with our customers and our staff to let them know we understand them, and we’re listening to them.”
Another big achievement for Gerrard is heading the MAX Foundation, MAX Solutions charitable arm. In 2017 the MAX Foundation donated $49,000, predominantly from MAX staff donations, to 14 regional charities including Meals on Wheels, Foodbank SA and The Girls Academy.
“The MAX Foundation was able to hand out its first grants last year, allowing us to really make a difference Australia wide.”
Gerrard will use his appointment of Patron for International Day of People with Disability 2018 to further this cause.
“It gives me a chance to be a voice for people with disability. To talk to employers, to the government and to a whole range of stakeholders about opportunities, needs and changes.”
“With ever-changing workforces and technologies, we need to stay up to date. Not just from an employment service provider perspective, but from a DES customer’s perspective.”
For Gerrard, who is supported at work with a Text To Speech (TTS) reader on his laptop, a watch that ‘talks’ and a supportive environment for his guide dog Boss, he understands the benefits of workplace modification.
“The smallest differences can make the biggest impact, whether it be a talking watch or a piece of blue tack on the microwave to press the button.
“A simple modification could provide a huge opportunity.”
With a list of achievements as long as Gerrard’s, it would be easy to stop and say ‘that’s enough’. But he’s only getting started.
“For me it’s about creating a pathway which may have never been travelled before. But hey, at least it’s easier for the person coming behind you.”
For more information on International Day of People with Disability visit https://www.idpwd.com.au/