From homeless to home – Jodie’s story

Published by MAXSolutions on November 06, 2022
Jodie and Andrea talk by the resort pool at BIG4

A period of homelessness saw Jodie enter the Airlie Beach MAX office in desperate need of a job. Her MAX team provided not only a job, but support to find a new home and a new family at work.

“I had to let go of some of my fears and take a step. I had no direction, I had to trust that they knew what was best for me and they exceeded my expectations, I didn’t just get a job, I didn’t just get that stability I needed, I didn’t just get a house – they’re all big steps that the MAX team have helped me through,” she shares. 

Adrift for a time

The last few years have seen Jodie knocked hard. A brain tumour caused her to experience seizures and for a time she was unable to work.


“I had to learn how to think again, and how to process things again,” shares Jodie. 


She took time out to attend medical appointments and recover. 


“I bought a houseboat and lived off my savings. It was my healing place to help me recover and help my speech,” says Jodie who also had to learn to speak again. 

However the housing crisis has hit Airlie Beach hard and to help her family, Jodie moved back onto dry land.


“My son and his family needed a place to stay, so I opted to get off the boat,” she says. 

But for Jodie, finding a place to stay back on the mainland with no job was challenging too. 


“I ended up living out of my other son’s car,” she shares. 

“The day I walked into MAX I needed a job pretty fast…I found myself homeless. The rental crisis is real everywhere in Australia, it can happen to anyone really quickly,” says Jodie. 

“So I let them know, look, I'm safe, but yeah, I need some help. I need to find some accommodation and I want to get my life back on track,” shares Jodie. 

Confidence returning

Jodie’s time out helped her recover, but as she continued her struggle with her cognitive health her confidence remained low.


“There was a lot of self-doubt. I've always been a very confident person, but what I went through just, it just shook my world. It really did,” she says.  “Honestly, I've walked in there [the MAX office] some days when I've just had nowhere else to turn and walked out of there with a new direction, you know, and that confidence back,” she says. 

“People that come to us as struggling at the moment and they just need a bit of support to get back into the right pathway and Jodie is such a fantastic example of this; she just needed her confidence back to get back on track,” shares MAX Business Manager Sarah Lee. 

As they supported her in a variety of ways to help her health and support her into accommodation, they found an employer who might just provide the right level of support and the perfect job for Jodie.


Connecting with a fabulous employer


“BIG4 are a fantastic employer. They’re so supportive. They’re the perfect, perfect employer to put somebody like Jodie into,” shares Sarah. 

Located in the Whitsundays – the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef – BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort offers a wide array of facilities and activities for kids and families, including an impressive pool with water slides.


“We have about 75 staff. We're very inclusive. We have staff from all, all walks of life and we're very diverse, which makes for a very happy team,” shares HR Manager Andrea. 

The team were looking for a new pool attendant, and the MAX team felt Jodie would be a perfect fit. 


“So we, we interviewed Jodie and we felt the same as they did. We thought she'd be a perfect match. 

“I believe that there are reservations when you hire any new staff member, whether they going to fit into our team, whether they're going to be the right person for the role. But when we met Jodie and we knew we had the support of MAX to help us through – it just seemed to be the right fit at the time and it still is,” says Andrea. 

Connecting with a fabulous employer

The perfect job

Jodie started in the pool attendant role. 


“I get to liaise with everybody at the pool, tell about all the features that we have at the park and all of this, all of the events that we have on for all of the guests,” says Jodie. 

The role has allowed Jodie to work at her own pace and continue taking care of her health. 


“I needed a job without that stress level…they've put me in the right spot where I've got support here at work, where I can work autonomously all day and keep my brain happy and keep myself happy,” shares Jodie. 

She has fitted so seamlessly into the BIG4 team that she has taken on extra responsibilities around the park. 

She is now helping out in the animal farm, with the gardens in the grounds team and in the laundry.


“Jodie has exceeded our expectations. She’s always happy. She’s always on time for work. She always wants to do more…So that’s a model employee as far as we’re concerned,” shares Andrea. 

And for Jodie, BIG4 now feels like home.

A home… and a house

And for Jodie, BIG4 now feels like home. 


“The support that I feel here is wonderful, everybody here makes me feel capable, like part of the team, so when I come to work, I try to pay Andrea back every single day for the chance she’s given me,” says Jodie. 

Although she’s settled into her new role(s) and her new work family, her MAX team continue to be a big part of Jodie’s life and provide in-work support to both Jodie and Andrea when needed.


“I just cannot praise them enough. They’ve become almost family. If everyone had that kind of support network around them, there wouldn’t be the unemployment rate that there is,” shares Jodie. 

While her workplace may feel like home, Jodie is now pleased to be living in a house. With the support of her MAX team, Jodie has secured a place in a share house for the time being.


“I’m safe and I’m healthy and I’m happy and at the moment there’s no better option,” Jodie shares candidly as the rental crisis continues. 

And for Jodie, BIG4 now feels like home.

A brighter future


“I’m very happy and grateful to be here. It really is the right job for me, and it’s not one I would have picked myself. I’m very happy here. I’m very happy with where I’ve landed,” says Jodie. 

“I've still got a lot to give. Being at work takes away that isolation you feel. It gives you that sense of accomplishment,” she shares.  

“I know I'm still quite a capable person. I'm not the person I was, but I'm still happy and confident with what I what I am. You know, a life is not a spectator sport. You've got to get out and do it. You know, and I'm still here,” she says. 

“But you can’t do it all yourself. The world changes, requirements change, perspectives change – you’ve got to have that once anchor that you can depend on. And I found that at MAX,” says Jodie. 

Congratulations to Jodie on finding a new house and a new home and thank you to the MAX and BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort teams for partnering to give every person, every chance.

Our Disability Employment Services (DES) teams around Australia are striving every day to give customers like Jodie the supports they need to find sustainable employment.


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