Geelong job seeker regains confidence after finding work
MatchWorks job seeker Lenny Peters was 15 years old when he became a paraplegic after losing his balance and falling 30 metres down a cliff-face at the beachside town of Barwon Heads.
The fall changed his life forever. Lenny completely severed his spinal cord, he was paralysed from his waist down and he sustained a minor cognitive brain injury.
Now 49, Lenny has started a new job at Serco in Melbourne after he struggled to find work in Geelong when his previous employer in Warrnambool ceased business.
Lenny linked up with MatchWorks East Geelong last year, and worked alongside Employment Consultant Samantha Simpson who helped him find suitable employment.
“As I was unable to find work in Warrnambool when the company which employed me as their National Occupational Health and Safety Manager went bankrupt, my wife and I relocated back to Geelong and I joined MatchWorks,” Lenny said.
“I regained confidence, learnt how to better prepare for job interviews, as well as learnt not to shy away from my minor brain injury – that was really important in getting me back into work,” he said.
Lenny said finding an employer who could accommodate his needs was difficult, but he was willing to consider opportunities outside Geelong.
“Some companies didn’t want to hire me because they didn’t understand what complete Paraplegic means,” he said.
“Finding a new job was extremely difficult as a majority of companies wanted someone who can multitask and use their legs. Companies want to use my brain in helping them with OH&S but also use my legs, which is impossible.
“Building access for wheelchairs has improved since 1982 but office layouts have not – the majority of offices are set up tightly for able-bodied people.”
Lenny said Box Hill-based Serco proved to be a perfect fit.
“Serco is excellent as it is set up for customer service and fully wheelchair friendly,” he said.
“Travelling to and from Geelong to Box Hill was an issue at the beginning, however if you stick at it it’s not an issue. I can’t praise Serco enough.”
Serco manager Derina Ediriweera said Lenny’s work ethic and positive attitude in the face of adversity was inspiring.
“Lenny is determined, committed, confident and always willing to learn new things,” Derina said.
“He always has a smile on his face and loves working in a team environment,” she said.
“Lenny is an inspiration to the whole team and I have a lot of time and respect for him.”
Samantha said Lenny’s confidence had grown since accepting new challenges on his way back to work.
“Lenny was more than willing to widen his job search to include Melbourne after he had little success in Geelong from interviews,” she said.
“I went to see Lenny for a workplace visit and spoke with his manager and she had nothing but praise for Lenny; his ability, determination, attitude and commitment to learning.”