It’s the beginning of another year, and the perfect time to reflect on our history. We take pride in sharing this Forrest Personnel origin story, a version of which was published in our 2019-2020 Quality of Care Report. We’re grateful to Ms Julie Waylen, one of our original Managing Directors, for generously contributing to this piece.
Like most organisations, we have a story behind our inception, and we’re lucky enough to have learnt about it first-hand. What makes ours so interesting, is that it’s a story about connection to communities. It’s about serving the needs and aspirations of people with health conditions, injuries and disabilities. It’s about supporting employers and in return, reaping the benefits of their support in providing people with opportunities. Remarkably, these are still the same ‘pillars’ that underpin the work of Forrest Personnel some thirty-plus years later.
In the beginning
The history of Forrest Personnel began in 1986 when it was set up as Project Employment Bunbury. On 30 June 1987, it was incorporated under the Associations Incorporated Act 1987. Then, on 28 May 1992, it changed its name to Forrest Personnel Incorporated, drawing its name from the electorate of Forrest. However, with time, the footprint of the organisation has expanded significantly.
An original Managing Director
Ms Julie Waylen, who is now State Manager of National Disability Services, was one of the original Managing Directors of Forrest Personnel and fondly remembers her time helping shape the organisation. She insists firmly that a lot of people contributed to its initial success. “You only ever pass through a place but it’s the people that you meet along the way that make all the difference” says Julie.
“Looking back at those times, it was a really great example of people coming together to champion a cause. Employers and key community leaders like the late Dr Ernie Manea, Mr Paul Vukelic, Mr Brian Best and many others championed for recognition that people with disability make such great workers and contribute substantially to society.
The move into open employment
Support from families and from people with disabilities themselves was paramount as they were looking to create their own careers in open employment. This was a new concept back then. Our initial numbers were low, but you knew everyone. You had that personal relationship with many employers and people all throughout the community. There was also a lot of State Government support and many departments were instrumental in supporting the concept and enabled us to expand into the regions, firstly into Busselton and then into Collie.
I look back at the inception of Forrest Personnel with such enormous joy and fondness. What’s really pleasing is that I understand that many of those original employers who offered people opportunities, are still involved today such as Bunbury Steam Laundry, Woolworths, Bell Fire, Wespine, Dardanup Butchering, Harvey Beef and lots of smaller employers too, lots of really good people.
“A special time”
I’m delighted to look back and remember what a special time it was and it makes me immensely proud of the work that was done then and continues to be done today.”
A final note
Forrest Personnel is grateful to Julie and to the many others whose vision played a significant role in shaping the history of the organisation we know today.
Forrest Personnel is a local charity. We specialise in supporting people with health conditions, injuries and disabilities to find and keep jobs.
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