From institutions to equality for Tammy
EQUALITY for those living with disabilities has been a hot topic in recent years, but Shaun McGuiness and employee Tammy Wasley were ahead of the game decades ago.
Mr McGuiness, managing director of Lismore City Printery, employed Ms Wasley as an assistant in 1994, helping forge a career for the boisterous and well-liked intellectually disabled woman.
Through her employment, Ms Wasley escaped mental hospitals and discovered self-confidence and the ability to stand on her own two feet.
The printery held a morning tea yesterday to celebrate Ms Wasley's 20th year with the company, attended by her parents Charmaine and John Knox, colleagues and Lismore Mayor Jenny Dowell.
In her typical cheeky demeanour, Ms Wasley joked she didn't particularly like the work, but her ear-to-ear grin was a dead giveaway.
Mr and Mrs Knox, from Brisbane, were exceptionally proud of their daughter, who continually defied doctors' expectations.
"I thought (the job) was wonderful, because the government put her in a mental home when she was 16 and separated her because she was too noisy," Mrs Knox said.
"All the doctors she'd been to since three and a half months old said she'd be like a vegetable and couldn't learn - look at her now.
"Shaun and everyone here treat her like family."
Mr McGuiness said he was glad to take Ms Wasley on all those years ago, saying his preconceptions were shattered almost immediately.
"When it first happened it was a real eye-opener for everyone," he said.
"I was pretty receptive to the idea though, once I knew there was no disadvantage to the employer.
"With a disability, the acceptance is key initially. It broke down a lot of barriers, not only with Tammy but with us.
"We've got staff of almost 20 and they all learned to be around and accept Tammy."
Ms Wasley has been supported by Lismore Accommodation Support Options.