It’s not often that a young man finds his dream job at a crematorium complex, but for Elijah, after a lifetime of not fitting in, he found peace, acceptance and admiration for his green thumb in the tranquil gardens.
It had been a significant accomplishment for Elijah to finish year 9 at school. Like many young people with Asperger syndrome, Elijah had trouble fitting in at school and experienced loneliness and bullying.
He was in and out of work for several years before he was referred to Worktrainers by Centrelink for assistance getting him into work and onto the right path. Anne-Marie Barry, an Employment Consultant at Worktrainers, was assigned his case and found him to be resistant to the help at first. Elijah tended to wear headphones, refuse to make eye contact or communicate with her. But after some time and effort he began to open up and engage with her. They worked out a good starting place for him would be a Certificate 1 in Work Education.
“Elijah really didn’t want to engage with us, it took a combined effort from me and his mum to get him to go to class and stay there at first but once the initial shock of being back in education passed and he began settling in, he began to enjoy himself, even being student of the month at one point” Anne-Marie said.
Through the course there was an opportunity for Elijah to get some real world experience with a work placement, he picked a seemingly unlikely place, the crematorium.
“I had always loved working outdoors. My parents used to have a gardening company and I had really enjoyed the work, so working at the crematorium I was doing the same kinds of things, mowing the lawns and maintaining the gardens,” Elijah said.
Unfortunately, council budgets meant it wasn’t possible for Elijah to continue working for the crematorium in spite of the manager’s praise of his work ethic, saying he would hire him in a heartbeat.
“It’s a shame the crematorium couldn’t give me a job, but it was great to get the experience working with such good people and feeling like I fitted in,” Elijah said.
Undeterred, Elijah has enrolled in and begun a Certificate 3 course in horticulture with the help of Worktrainers and hopes to find ongoing work in gardening.
“Anne-Marie has been great, she worked out I needed that little extra push to get me going and I can see that I’m more confident, I’m better at communicating and I’m more motivated to go to class and find a job and support myself,” Elijah said.