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The ORCA Project’s Class of 2019

Published Friday 13 December 2019
  • Disability and Mental Health

Last Tuesday marked a very special night. The ORCA Project celebrated their first ever graduates from the program. There were tears, excitement and a lot of love to be shared.  

The ORCA Project is a post-school program for young people aged 17-21 living with different abilities and provides opportunity to gain foundational work skills to ultimately achieve employment.

After two years of participating in the program, eleven participants were ready to graduate, having gained core work skills, increased confidence, and a greater understanding of who they are as a worker.  

The Albany Creek Community Centre was filled with an excited crowd of around 140 people. Families, friends and people in the community came to support and congratulate the graduates on their success.  

Alison Cox, Project Officer of The ORCA Project, reflected on the last few years and how far The ORCA Project has come.  

“When we first started planning what The ORCA Project would look like back in 2017 there was only one registration, which was my daughter Jas.” 

“We had people that had engaged with us and planned out our concept for the program. But in the middle of December of 2017 there was still only Jas and I knew we couldn’t run it with just her. Even with that clear concept, The ORCA Project could not start unless we had people who were brave and willing to sign their family member up to start. 

“By January 2018, another six families had enrolled who were looking for a program based on work readiness for their sons and daughters and we started the first term of The ORCA Project. We had four in a class at a time, which is a small group compared to today, where we now have thirty two participants across two programs,” says Alison.

Last Tuesday we heard from one of the graduates Jordan, who has had a successful journey over the last two years.  

“There are many things I enjoyed at ORCA, like learning new work skills, doing the Ethical Groceries Group and volunteering at the May Fair at the Albany Creek Uniting Church,” says Jordan.   

“Since day one I have really enjoyed going to ORCA and over the last 12 months I have worked at the Leisure Centre Café at WMQ serving coffee and food to the residents. From February to March this year I also got to take part in work experience with an engineering firm in the city. I got to deliver mail, do stock take, scan documents and make sure the office was tidy.  

“In March I secured a paid job at that engineering firm and I really enjoy my time there. I would like to thank all the staff and volunteers for helping me secure my dream job.” 

As the graduation celebrations drew to a close, Alison had one thing left to say, “thank you to those who believed in this program and helped us to grow.”  

The ORCA Project has now expanded the program and have opened a new location at Broadwater Road Uniting Church in Mansfield. It will start in Term 1 of 2020 and there are only five spots left!  

Want to find out more about the ORCA Project? Visit our webpage for more information.