Royal Children’s Hospital & Holmesglen in jobs project for students with disabilities

Holmesglen Institute course co-ordinator Jan Davis with students at the Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH). Photo credit: RCH Melbourne Creative Studio.

Please note: Images in this article were taken before current COVID-19 safety measures were in place.

A partnership forged between a tertiary training institute and one of Victoria’s biggest hospitals is set to alter the employment prospects for young disabled students.  

Holmesglen Institute and Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) have teamed up to deliver a unique integrated placement program designed to usher young disabled people into employment.

Assisted with a $50,000 grant from the Victorian Government’s Jobs Victoria Innovation Fund, it is a first for Australia and one of just three programs of its type in the world.

The pilot program, involving the first 10 students, is already underway.

Holmesglen and RCH staff and studentsThis is the way it works: the partnership allows 10 students with a disability to enrol in a Certificate 1 in Work Education. In tandem, they undertake a supported internship learning practical workplace skills at the hospital. Along with adopting specialist skills, the students are building confidence and helping hospital professionals, technicians and administrators.

Three specialised departments at the RCH have been allocated for the students to rotate through. In addition to the formal study component, personal and professional development is obtained during four hours of placement each day. The primary goal is for them to be approaching readiness for a vocational pathway when they finish their study.

One of the students, Jack Francis, is currently working in the hospital’s central sterilising supply unit. He supports professional instrument technicians with cleaning and disinfecting reusable medical instruments and equipment.

Fellow student, Duol Thiep, works in the hospital’s family services department. Alongside staff and volunteers, he provides families with respite by playing with patients and their siblings. Duol also helps staff with a range of administrative and other family-centred duties.

And in the third department – the early learning centre – is Laura Flynn. She is supporting practitioners with delivering childhood education as well as helping to care for the children involved in its programs.

Holmesglen Community and Transitional Education Course Coordinator Jan Davis identified the opportunity to grow an industry partnership after completing a research fellowship through the International Specialised Skills Institute.

Jan spent close to a month in London observing two colleges and five work sites, including the Sofitel hotel in Heathrow as well as Kensington Council. During her observation she discovered that students who undertake supported internship programs have up to an 80 per cent success rate of gaining future mainstream employment. If these statistics apply universally, the opportunities for the 10 Victorian students involved in this local spin-off program are promising.

Jack, Duol, Laura and their fellow students enrolled in this pilot program will graduate in November. We wish them the best of luck with their ongoing studies and careers thereafter.

More information about the Jobs Victoria Innovation Fund is on the Jobs Victoria website.