Lochlan Thomas at Hatton Vale State School on January 30.
Lochlan Thomas at Hatton Vale State School on January 30. Meg Bolton

Lochlan works for free for a year in a bid to secure a job

LOCHLAN Thomas has taken his employability into his own hands.

After facing knock-back after knock-back, the Kensington Grove 18-year-old decided to let his abilities do the talking.

Mr Thomas has volunteered at Hatton Vale State School for almost a year now.

While he is not officially employed the Lockyer Valley teen is determined he is on the right track.

"I believe I've got the skills and motivation to get out there and prove that to not only myself, but to future people with cerebral palsy,” Mr Thomas said.

"It doesn't matter what the variation of the disability you've got you're capable of anything you put your mind to.”

Since beginning his role almost four schooling terms ago, Mr Thomas has gradually increased his commitment to the school and now volunteers on a full-time basis.

He not only assisted classroom teachers and students with technology, but he also performed the role of a teacher aid.

Hatton Vale School Principal Ashley Lawless said was an asset to the school.

"Lochlan would be a positive addition to any school,” Mr Lawless said.

"He is years above his age, sometimes you forget you're talking to an 18-year-old because he's got such an insight.

"He has certainly made himself welcome with the staff, he's very personable, his emotional intelligence is quite high, and he understands how the school politics operate.”

Mr Thomas said he tried to gain work through multiple disability employment agencies, but was often restricted by his disability.

"Mainly the biggest problem I have with being able to get work full time is getting around and having that flexibility,” Mr Thomas said.

Mr Thomas has required a wheelchair for his whole life, which made accessibility a major issue, but since starting at the Hatton Vale school he has had no issues.

Mr Lawless said catering for a diverse range of people was a priority of the school.

"At Hatton Vale State School we run a very inclusive practice model and we cater for all students from all walks of life in every class,” Mr Lawless said.

"We don't isolate or withdraw students and the important thing about that philosophy is showing that there is a place in society for everyone and Lochlan certainly has a place (at the school).”

While working for free for almost a year may seem ludicrous to some, Mr Thomas believed good things will come to people who wait.

"Someone with a disability has just got to be patient and put themselves out there and start with voluntary and work up the chain and get paid,” Mr Thomas said.

Mr Lawless said Mr Thomas was preparing himself well for a paid role, but employment was a matter of a position becoming available.

"If there was a position down the track he would have every opportunity to apply for those roles,” Mr Lawless said.

"He's got an innate skill.

"We are just lucky we can offer him the opportunity to work in a volunteer position at this point.”

For now, Mr Thomas looked forward to becoming more skilled in the teaching profession.

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