Daniel is set-up for success in his own business

Daniel is proof that even the biggest challenges can be overcome.

The Adelaide born business owner grew up with a father who lived with schizophrenia. When his parents eventually divorced, trauma caused the then 15 year old into a downward spiral.

“All throughout my upbringing, I had no strong father figure,” Daniel said.

“Dad stopped working and has never worked since, so I had no motivation and my role model didn’t exist. I mean, who do you turn to?”

Daniel is seated at a timber table inside the Lighthouse Youth Projects building and is creating a yellow sign with a positive message for young people visiting the building. Daniel wears a black cap and a fluorescent yellow jacket with a bright orange collar.

Daniel’s lowest point came in 2015 when he was hospitalised with the same condition and told he would need medication for life. Over the next five years, Daniel struggled to maintain his health, self-esteem and employment.

“I had no money for psychiatric care, was not covered by Centrelink, couldn’t afford anything and had given up,” he said.

“I was rejected for the DSP (disability support pension) a couple of times and when I did find work in a factory, I left after a year as I was smoking a lot and couldn’t balance my emotions.”

For the next three years, Daniel spent a lot of time reading about the nature of his illness and ways to build his optimism and motivation. With support from other disability employment providers, he completed a Certificate II in Horticulture and a ‘Be your own boss’ course. Then he switched to MatchWorks Norwood this year, where he was supported to set up his own part-time gardening and handyman business while studying.

“I have had a lot of positive steps suggested or reinforced by job providers and there has always been someone who has suggested something I hadn’t considered,” Daniel said.

“MatchWorks has been the best one and I am not just sucking up. Nick was very supportive and understanding, tailoring to my strengths and circumstances. I wouldn’t have got here on my own.“

“It was evident that linking Daniel to opportunities for outdoor work was going to have a positive impact on his health and wellbeing,” Nick Scheer, MatchWorks Disability Employment Consultant said.

“His determination to become independent and healthy, as well as give back to his community by helping at-risk kids at Lighthouse Youth Projects has been inspiring.”

Daniel is standing outside the front door to the Lighthouse Youth Projects building. There are multiple signs surrounding him including the Lighthouse Youth Projects logo, a sign that says welcome to visitors, an yellow sign with the message positive mental attitude and another black and white sign with a map of Australia and a kangaroo and the word Beaut. Daniel wears a black cap and a fluorescent yellow jacket with a black vest over the top.

Daniel has made other positive life changes. He no longer drinks alcohol, smokes or relies on medication. He also eats a healthy diet and has returned to his Bachelor of Media and Communication degree that he deferred several years ago.

“It is still my thing and I get a steady amount of requests to do illustrations, flyers, posters, band art, commissioned art, photography and BMX related work. I have found that in life, one thing will grow to the next, and you just have to keep doing it,” Daniel said.

“I feel great when I finish my day. It’s independence, the satisfaction of earning and routine. Once you have experienced that, you don’t want to go back.”

Learn more about MatchWorks Disability Employment Services

If you’re living with an injury, disability or health condition and looking for work, MatchWorks can help you prepare for, find and keep a job.