By CASEY NEILL
GATEWAY Industries employee Mark Hutton endured bullying and verbal abuse at work every day for more than two years.
The Dandenong-based non-profit employs people with disabilities and Mr Hutton was a guest speaker at its AGM at Dandenong Club on Monday 21 September.
He said working at Gateway for the past three years had restored his self-esteem.
“I have made a lot of friends who are like my family,” he said.
Mr Hutton said he stuck it out in open employment “even though it hurt inside”.
“I had to learn to cope with it and it was stressful,” he said.
But he suffered a mental breakdown and needed counselling to recover.
“I now feel happy and wanted,” he said.
City of Casey Councillor Amanda Stapledon said Mr Hutton had “shown resilience, decency and tenacity”.
She spoke about the council’s support for people with disabilities, including programs to promote social inclusion and disability-friendly facilities.
Cr Stapledon also spruiked Livvi’s Space in Lyndhurst, which was designed to include children of all abilities and officially opened on 13 September.
She said Gateway Industries workers who maintained parks and gardens throughout the municipality left it looking beautiful.
“We are grateful for the work that Gateway Industries employees do in our city,” she said.
“They put their heart and soul into what they do.”
Gateway CEO Alan Warwick said workers took care of litter patrol and bin and street furniture cleaning in City of Greater Dandenong.
“We are able to ensure that recreation reserves, parks and streets in the City of Greater Dandenong are maintained in a clean and acceptable standard that allows the residents and general communities to enjoy the facilities provided,” he said.
Mr Warwick said the team each year removed about 15 tonnes of rubbish, cleaned seats, drinking fountains and bike racks and more.
The Gateway team also maintains gardens and grounds at retirement villages, factories and businesses.
It completes several woodwork projects, packages air filters and timing belts and labels water bottles.
Mr Warwick said Gateway sales in 2014-‘15 increased $60,000 on the previous year, and that New Skills was training employees in Certificate I in Work Education.
“This will assist our employees in the understanding of what is required by them in the workplace, and also how to apply for employment in open employment,” he said.
President Russell Smith said Gateway was now in its 31st year and it was tremendous to see so many people at the AGM.
“To see our folk happy and involved in our community, with a sense of purpose in all they do is to realise what a real benefit Gateway is to their sense of well-being and belonging to society,” he said.
Mr Smith said Gateway was awaiting announcements about the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) rollout and how it would impact the service.
“We feel confident of our continuing operations to benefit our workers, staff and the community generally,” he said.