Podcast Episode 20. REDinc offers a model worth replicating when it comes to helping young people achieve their work related dreams according to Mitch Halligan Work and Training Coordinator at REDinc.
REDinc. is based in NSW, Australia, and was originally started by 5 families who found there was nowhere for their children to progress to after secondary school. It now provides a variety of support services, including helping people with additional needs transition into work which they find rewarding and for which they are rewarded appropriately.
Mitch talks about the projects REDinc. has developed, including one with young people who enjoy gaming; most often in the confines of their own bedrooms, they now get together offline to not only to enjoy the gaming aspect but to also create other opportunities for creativity. This has included creating a YouTube channel, where games are reviewed, and publishing blogs. As Mitch says the outcome here is not the gaming but the other skills being developed in the environment and the confidence of interaction.
Mitch explains how Redinc. works hard to ensure all staff are skilled in whatever area they are teaching. They employ professionals to teach students the technical skills rather than relying on volunteers who may not be experts in a specialist topic. The experience of these professionals not only helps the students develop their skills but provides them with a real insight into the professions they may be interested in entering. In addition, having paid staff allows for accountability. That is not to say REDinc. does not value volunteers who also play an important role and provide a link with the community which is integral to success.
Mitch also offers his thoughts around the ongoing debate as to whether people with additional needs should be paid less because they may not complete the task as quickly as others. He offers a practical suggestion, at least one that could work in jobs where productivity and output can be easily measured. However, Mitch also argues that any model, and he uses the sheltered workshop model to illustrate his point, must have within it incentives so that people are motivated and aware that if they work harder they will be rewarded for it.
However, as Mitch is careful to say, it must ultimately be the individual’s choice as to what they do. As he says ‘nothing about without you’ is an important part of his role so that what he does is based on the goals and interests of the person he is supporting. He shares a couple of success stories with us, including a young woman working as a receptionist in her local community and a young man who is finding his own path (with the help of REDinc.) towards a career in nursing.
Finally, Mitch talks about the future for REDinc. and its desire to stay small enough to provide the best support it can. The model works, which begs the question why aren’t there more of these types of organizations? Mitch suggests it is in part a funding issue, but is also down to a lack of coordination, at least in Australia across state borders. He also believes that because REDinc came from families ties, this ultimately makes the organisation focused in a different way and has helped scaffold their success.
[2.15] – Who are RED Inc
[2.50] – Mitch’s role and the types of support provided
[3.45] – Why the outcome based approach is so important
[4.00] – Real work real successes
[5.15] – Building other independence skills
[5.45] – Getting gamers out of their bedrooms and giving them purpose
[6.25] – Employing the right people to provide support and teach
[7.10] – Structured classes with set goals to be achieved
[7.35] – Not forgetting the social side
[8.50] – Real jobs in the community
[9.45] – What about different pay rates for people with additional needs?
[11.10] – Nothing about you without you
[11.35] – Looking at different path to reach the same end destination
[12.30] – The future of RED Inc
[13.00] – Small does work better in this case
[14.45] – Red tape stifles coordinated support
Outcomes, progress and choice
Looking until the right path is identified