RADIUS ranges wide to support people with a disability in a variety of work, writes COLIN TAYLOR
With clients ranging from government to golf clubs, the crews at Radius Environmental Services in Bendigo certainly can't complain about monotony in their working week.
RES is part of Radius Disability Services, central Victoria's longest-established provider of services and employment opportunities to people with a disability.
The organisation can take up to 132 supported employees working in packaging, assembly, making calico, canvas and cotton wholesale goods, screen printing, garden maintenance and handmade paper production.
The environmental services section manages large gardening and lawn mowing contracts, as well as looking after private properties, with mowing, edging, trimming, weeding, chemical spraying and rubbish removal.
Enterprises co-ordinator Daryl Headlam said the gardening work was the biggest of the organisation's four business arms.
"We have lots of big jobs coming in - particularly from the City of Greater Bendigo," he said.
"We work mainly in the Bendigo area, but also do a lot of bushfire maintenance for Telstra, mowing their sites, pruning, spraying weeds and tidying up."
RES services about 150 Telstra properties, as far apart as Bunnaloo in NSW, Wallan, Tatura and Inglewood, plus about 90 mobile towers spread across central Victoria.
"We look after businesses and clubs here in Bendigo, as well as police stations, primary schools, public walking tracks, golf clubs and retirement villages," Daryl said.
"We also have lots of mums and dads as customers and they are the bread and butter of our finances."
There are more than 100 of these private customers - about 60 per cent of the total business.
"We have three support staff in the mowing area," Daryl said.
"Peter Young is the team leader, with Jason Nickson and Richard Morgan, an ex-farmer from Dingee.
"Nine times out of 10, when the crews go out, a support worker is with them.
"Increasingly, though, there are smaller jobs where we will leave a crew unattended for a couple of hours.
"The guys are unbelievably proud of the work they do," he said.
Team leader Peter Young is a former teacher with many years' experience in the disability field. He has the job of managing the workflow, machinery and manpower.
"We have 22 supported employees, aged from 18 to 55 years, and probably 10-11 come in each day," Young said.
"Most work two days a week, some three, and at this time of the year we'd have three crews on the road.
"We have a Kubota 1.5m front-deck mower, two 90cm ride-ons (Cox and Honda), push-mowers, blowers and whipper-snippers, plus two Transit trucks and two twin-cab utes.
"A lot of effort goes into training and OH&S fast-spinning blades are very unforgiving.
"Training is a mix of formal and on-the-job and is ongoing topics such as maintenance of small engines and farm chemicals."
Young said he was always on the lookout for more business opportunities.
"I'm thinking about the idea of a tractor and slasher at the moment for roadside work, but we have to grow towards that," he said.
"Lopping trees and firewood are other possibilities, but, once again, you need your tickets."
He said the work would not come in if standards were lax.
"We believe we do quality work," he said. "Ultimately, our test is to stand up in the workplace and provide a quality service