Hutchinson Builders urges employers to focus on abilities and workplace diversity

2012 is a year Mitchell McMahon will have etched in his memory forever after his life was literally turned upside down following a freak cycling accident at Mt Stuart in Townsville.

At just 22 years old at the time, Mitch was devastated by the incident, having come off his bike while riding downhill causing a C5 broken neck and major limitations to his mobility from the neck down.

“It’s meant I’m basically in a wheelchair with limited hand function all the time, but as I do have some function in my legs I get physio a couple of times a week– it’s good for morale and helps maintain what I’ve got,” he said.

With the support of STEPS Employment Solutions, Mitch was able to secure a Contracts Administrator role with Hutchinson Builders and currently works at the $13.1M Mount Louisa Residential Aged Care Facility for Blue Care.

“I really enjoy watching the project go from nothing to something and helping manage all the subbies and make sure everything’s getting done to the right time-frames,” he said.

Mitch McMahon

Making it all come together. (L to R) Garry Smith, Mitchell McMahon & Mark Phillips. Photo: Through the Looking Glass

Hutchies believes in diversity

Hutchinson Builders Manager Mark Phillips said ‘staff don’t see a wheelchair, they see a happy young man who is part of their team.’

“Having met Mitchell, we were determined to provide an opportunity to keep him in the Construction industry,” he said.   “We believe in diversity and tend to overlook obstacles and problem solve issues we support and feel passionate about– this was one of them.

“Having access to a broader pool of talent is always more desirable as an employer.”

STEPS supports great employment outcomes

“In the early days of employing Mitch, there were representatives from STEPS in the office assisting with issues and providing advice on how to move forward.”

“We believe their role is critical to the success of placing a disabled employee in the workplace.”

While Mitch is not on the tools anymore, he’s currently studying for a Diploma of Construction in medium rise construction for personal development and to support his career.

“I’d encourage anyone else in similar situation to go and see someone like Helen [at STEPS] and see what’s possible and get back to work,” he said.

“It’s not just about making money for me. Making money comes third really; it’s good just to be getting out and using your brain and feeling like part of society.”

Performance and productivity no barrier

When Hutchinson’s first took Mitch on Mark understood that technology had removed many of the barriers to employment for disabled people and were confident they could provide Mitchell with the necessary tools to become a valued employee.

“The team really enjoy working with Mitchell – he is a shrewd comic with an infectious smile and always willing to assist and is happy to participate in a friendly prank,” he said.

Once someone with a disability has had a chance, employers will find they’re as valuable in the workplace as anyone else. Mitch McMahon.

To learn more about how STEPS Employments Solutions can support your business needs or help you find work, call us on 1300 766 962.

A bright future mapped out. Mitchell McMahon and Mark Phillips. Photo: Through the Looking Glass

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