17 August 2023
The Examiner Newspaper, Launceston
By Hamish Geale
A Launceston disability service worker has won national recognition for helping Northern Tasmanians thrive in the workplace.
Interact’s Amanda Williams had no idea she’d been nominated for the prestigious Steven Lawrence award – recognising excellence in helping disadvantaged Australians gain employment – until a surprise phone call from her managers.
Ms Williams said she was amazed to have been nominated, and even more stunned to have her name called out at CoAct’s awards night in Surfers Paradise late last month.
“My state manager and my own manager rang me one morning and said ‘guess what you’re going to the Gold Coast’,” she said.
“I had a little cry on the phone – even just being nominated and acknowledged was just outstanding for me.
“I was so proud to be up there and it isn’t just me – there’s so many people and we work together so well. I’m part of a really strong team.”
Ms Williams helps Northern Tasmanians – from teenagers to those in their 60s – overcome challenges posed by disabilities, injuries or illnesses to succeed in employment.
This involves working with employers and employees to help the latter succeed independently in the workplace.
She said one of her clients, a young gentleman with autism and learning difficulties, had recently completed a traineeship, been permanently employed by the same company, and been nominated for Tasmania’s trainee of the year in the disability category.
“I love everything about this role,” said Ms Williams, who recently chalked up five years with Interact.
“I love working with the people we have as clients and I love working with my peers – we’re such a great bunch of people and so dedicated to everything we do.
“The thing I love most about my job is when I come in and the employer tells me a good news story about something that’s happened – the employee’s done well, managed by themselves, or made some sort of progress – and I see that person working away with a smile on their face and looking confident in the workplace.
“It gets the feels, it’s just the best.”
Interact employs about 10 staff across Tasmania, and many more on the mainland.
Interact’s acting chief executive Jamie Bardon said the organisation was “so proud” of Ms Williams’ achievements and hard work.
“Amanda’s commitment to supporting participants through their unique challenges is truly remarkable,” Mr Bardon said.
“Not only does she go above and beyond to understand their needs, but she also has a special ability to put employers at ease when hiring someone with a disability.
“Employers have praised her level of compassion, empathy and professionalism.”
Interact workforce partner Amanda Williams with the national award she won late last month.
Pictures by Hamish Geale