Jamie sets the PACE for inclusion

Thu 13 April 2017

Jamie De Paulo and his mentor standing against a green leafy wall

Starting an innovative mentoring program has made a big difference for 26-year-old Jamie De Paulo from Camperdown.

The Australian Network on Disability (AND)’s Positive Action towards Career Engagement (PACE) mentoring program matches jobseekers with disability to business professionals. It aims to help them gain experience in a workplace setting, develop skills and expand their networks.

“I’ve been working on improving my communication skills, trying to build on my current skills and my overall knowledge base. I have also been working on new ways to improve my job seeking skills and I think it has definitely helped. I feel much more confident and comfortable with how I approach people now,” said Jamie.

Jamie was matched with Judith from Lendlease in October 2016. The relationship is going well, so they decided to expand the three-month arrangement.

“Judith is a really knowledgeable person and is really pleasant to work with. She has passed her knowledge on to me about how I can break down barriers and how I can better use my skills in the workplace. I have been working on ways to apply that knowledge. I like that she has been able to teach me new skills and give me some very good advice,” said Jamie.

The main activity between mentors and mentee is conversation. They talk about setting goals, planning, building skills, and career and education pathways. Other activities may include things like, reviewing resume and cover letters, mock interviews or discussing workplace adjustments.

“I found out about the program through Facebook. The information was posted on a page I follow which is for people with Spina Bifida. I read through the details, thought it sounded interesting and applied from there,” said Jamie.

In the past Jamie has found it challenging to gain employment because of his disability.

“It is very hard to find work. Employers are not aware of the skills that people with disability can provide. I have Spina bifida and I use a wheelchair to access places,” said Jamie.

Jamie is studying for a Certificate IV in Library and Information Studies. He also has a Certificate IV in Business Administration and is currently seeking employment.

“I volunteer at Marrickville Library doing data entry and uploading files onto the computer. I also regularly volunteer selling merchandise to raise money for charity. I support National Bandana Day for CanTeen and Daffodil Day and Sydney Relay for Life for the Cancer Council,” he said.

If you or someone you know may benefit from the PACE mentoring program, Jamie’s advice is to “Go for it.”

“The program teaches you a lot. Step by step, I’ll reach my goal of finding employment. It will help me feel included and have a sense of direction - something that is really important to me.”

To find out more or apply visit the PACE Mentoring webpage or call 1300 363 645.

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