FARM TOUR: Federal Member for Page, Kevin Hogan, with State Member for Ballina, Tamara Smith with Ballina councillors Nathan Smith, Sharon Cadwallader and Sharon Parry and other on a tour of Summerland House Farm.
FARM TOUR: Federal Member for Page, Kevin Hogan, with State Member for Ballina, Tamara Smith with Ballina councillors Nathan Smith, Sharon Cadwallader and Sharon Parry and other on a tour of Summerland House Farm. Graham Broadhead

Summerland House Farm employs 97 people with disabilities

THE employees of Summerland House Farm have told local dignitaries how proud they are of their jobs at the Alstonville business, which is part of the House With No Steps.

The dignitaries included the Federal Member for Page, Kevin Hogan, the State Member for Ballina, Tamara Smith, and Ballina councillors Nathan Willis, Sharon Cadwallader and Sharon Parry who toured the property which employs 97 people with disabilities.

The tour was about promoting BuyAbility, an initiative of the National Disability Services which aims to show the supported employment sector is one that produces high quality goods and services.

That initiative aims to promote the businesses provided by the sector, which in turn has the potential to give more people with disabilities the chance to work -- and feel the same pride in their jobs the current employees do.

Dylan O'Mally, the retail and tourism manager of the Farm, said there was more to the organisation than the cafe and gift shop the public sees.

About 240 local growers of macadamia nuts and fruit utilise the services of the farm in the dehusking and packing sheds -- that's a figure that has grown in the last five years.

Mr O'Malley said those growers expected the farm to work to the same kind of deadlines and quality that other commercial enterprises do -- it's not all about charity.

He said the success of the farm's operations were testament to the "blended workforce”.

But the bottom line is that success allows the farm to expand its supported employment base.



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