Life After Work
L.A.W (Life After Work) is a unique and industry leading initiative that supports individuals living with disability to transition from Supported Employment into a quality retirement lifestyle. The program was created to address the increased risk of social isolation for older individuals living with a disability as they retire from the workforce. L.A.W provides support services focussed on community inclusion, skill development, Independent living skills, self care, growing connections and exploring new interests. L.A.W is available to individuals over the age of 55 who have been in long term employment at an Australian Disability Enterprise (ADE) and who have identified that they would like to begin the process of transitioning into retirement. The program is not government funded and places are offered on a fee for service basis. Vision statement: To provide high quality support and guidance to individuals living with a disability as they move from supported employment towards a quality retirement lifestyle, and by doing so increase their independence and community participation and reduce their risk of experiencing social isolation. Mission statement: Choice, Voice and Inclusion for all.
Formerly Known As Transition To Retirement
Windgap has over 60 supported employees based at our Windgap Enterprise’s workshop in Eastlakes, many of whom are at, or approaching, retirement age. We know that providing these loyal employees with a fulfilling, enriching and enjoyable retirement option is a must. Across the country, other ADEs are in a similar position and FAHCSIA has recognised that retirement for loyal employees is an urgent matter. At Windgap, our employees are supported in deciding when and how they would like to embark on the retirement process, and are empowered to create a retirement lifestyle that truly reflects their individual values, interests and aspirations. In order to achieve this outcome Windgap has launched a uniqueformerly known as Transition to Retirement initiative (TTR) which has been designed specifically to ensure all employees are supported throughout the process in a holistic and person centred manner. One of the challenges faced by any individual transitioning to retirement is the risk of social isolation. At Windgap we know that it is essential that the identities, friendships and social connections forged during years of meaningful employment are not lost when retirement is embraced. Similarly we recognise the skills and expertise that our employees have cultivated over their working life, and the importance of maintaining and celebrating these during retirement also. With this in mind, the program aims to support retirees in exploring their individual goals and aspirations, while ensuring existing friendships and social connections are maintained. In addition, the program offers an opportunity to identify new and exciting ways for retirees to participate in and contribute to community life through a variety of avenues.
The Art Cafe
Our first group of retirees began regularly attending one day per week at our Art Café site on Gardner’s Rd, Mascot. However the programs quickly outgrew this location and have since expanded to three days per week, with a fourth day coming soon, and are now based at a newly refurbished site in Daniel St, Botany. The Art Café was a very important part of TTR in its early days, and we have very fond memories of our time there. Much of the art produced by our retirees during that time is now on display and can be viewed at our new site.
The Diamonds Choir
Our retirees have shared a love of music and singing from the very beginning, and it was as a result of regular attendance at the monthly Bondi Seniors Concert that the idea to form our own TTR choir came about. ‘The Diamonds’ community choir was formed in January 2013, and gave its first performance later that year in front of an audience of more than 50. ‘The Diamonds’ have been delighting the local community with performances at key social events ever since. Choir practice is held fortnightly on Wednesday afternoons and all are welcome!
Activities and Outgoings
As with all social groups, the retirees come from a variety of different backgrounds and have many varied interests. We apply a democratic, inclusive approach to decision making and spend considerable time working together when deciding what activities and outings the program will offer. Recently we have started regular sessions in sewing, leatherwork, gardening, photography and furniture restoration to name but a few. That’s in addition to the already established favourites like cookery, movies, knitting and art in all its forms! We have also recently organised a whale watching outing in Kurnell, taken a tour of the NSW Mounted Police Unit and enjoyed afternoon tea in Vaucluse House.
Our New Site Draper
We are very lucky to be based out of a beautiful, recently refurbished period house known as ‘Draper’ in Daniel St, Botany. It is here that we hope to develop our two major group projects –the Community Garden and the Community Shed. The Community Garden is being designed and created by our retirees, and will enhance the local area by offering our neighbours somewhere to come and share their locally renowned gardening skills and knowledge! The Community Shed will provide a place for retirees to learn new crafts and skills like woodwork, furniture restoration and joinery. We hope that both the Community Shed and the Community Garden will not only enhance and enrich the lives of our retirees, but also provide a valuable resource to our local community in general.
Some Reflection On Working Life Shared By Our Retirees
John remembers: “Some of us went for work experience to another workshop at Redfern. We worked as machine operators. It was absolutely filthy dirty. And the toilets were awful hard to get to. Dianne and I were busted by the boss for kissing on the workshop floor. I was expelled for a couple of days over that. We used to have discos on the workshop floor, on Friday nights. There was a band, we danced rock n roll and had soft drinks.” (John) Victor remembers: Every Monday we used to take our lunch over to the uni, we did the fence line, picking up rubbish. After lunch we worked inside the uni. Wayne was our boss then, he really trusted me. One day Dianne Smith went missing and I caught her watching TV. And Caesar – I was the only one he listened to.” (Victor)