The Reality of Disability Employment ‘Services’

By Matt McLeod, 6 June 2016
I’d like to just share my experience with the disability support job agency called ‘Ostara’.
I purposefully sought them out as I wanted an agency that showed some understanding of my situations. What I found was very disappointing.
From the very start, I was handed over to a very rude, condescending person by the name of Rosie (Preston, VIC branch). She spoke to me as if I were a child with an odd, belittling tone and would often speak over the top of me. I brushed this off at first, as I just wanted a job that would suit me.
Rosie actually arranged a job for me within two weeks at a small business called ‘Hypersonic Industries’, in Campbellfield, VIC. It was a warehouse role (even though I stated that I desperately wanted to get away from more warehouse roles). Feeling as though I didn’t have a choice, I took the job.
Rosie and I made an agreement from the start – I would work the hours I agreed to and Ostara would provide a fuel voucher to the value of $40, as well as a work clothing voucher (value not mentioned at this point), but I did not receive either.
After a month or so of working for Hypersonic Industries, I had strong concerns for my safety. My body started to really strain and I had to start receiving physio treatment. My physio warned me that I had to drop my hours from 38 per week to a least 30. I spoke to my employer about this and he was fine with it. I did not, how ever, express my concerns for the countless unnecessary dangers within the warehouse, as I was afraid to and couldn’t afford to lose the job.
During this first month or so, Rosie was on my back constantly asking for me to report my hours. I had started off reporting to her regularly, but when I asked about the vouchers and why I still had not received them, I only heard excuses. Rosie said I would get them at the next meeting, then the meeting was rescheduled until she got back from her holiday, then she told me they would be in the mail. This was over the course of a few months. I figured, if Rosie was not going to keep to her end of the agreement, then neither was I. So I stopped reporting my hours to her.
After a while, my partner called Rosie (in good faith) and expressed her own concern for me in the job role and to also complain about the way Rosie treated me and why I had not received the vouchers. Rosie told my partner she didn’t even know who I was. After a while of being very unprofessional and unhelpful, she miraculously found my file but continued to be very unhelpful and eventually hung up on my partner.
My partner called back but was hung up on again. My partner called back a third time and asked why she was being hung up on, Rosie simply said it wasn’t her (Rosie’s) fault. My partner asked if she should come into the office instead as “the line appears to be faulty”, Rosie said ‘no’ and told her that she would call my workplace about my situation there. My partner told Rosie that that isn’t what she wanted or asked for but Rosie hung up once again.
On the day Rosie called my workplace, I was placed into an incredibly uncomfortable situation. Rosie had told them everything my partner had mentioned about the workplace. My employers then put me on the spot and asked if it was true. I felt under a huge amount of pressure and played it down and basically said everything was okay. My employer then asked that I tell Ostara that, as they didn’t want their name spoken badly of (as that’s where they get their employees – from an agency for those with disabilities).
My partner called Ostara’s manager and told him everything that had happened up until this point. He agreed that Rosie was out of line in calling my workplace and for treating both my partner and myself so rudely. He said that there have been previous complaints about Rosie from other people, too.
He told my partner that I would not have to deal with her again (So I was transferred to another branch). He also told my partner that he doesn’t know why Rosie had promised me vouchers, as that wasn’t in their policy. He told my partner that he would send out a $200 voucher anyway. Months later though, and it still has not arrived.
The branch I was transferred to (Box Hill) has been equally unhelpful. I’ve had one meeting but the following four have all been rescheduled by them. Having enough of this, I have asked to be transferred to yet another branch (Brunswick).
In the end, I was dismissed from my workplace (I suspect it all led back to Rosie’s phone call), so I’m hoping to find work again – though this time, I hope they match me with a job I can actually do.
I should also mention that while I was working for Hypersonic Industries, my fellow employees also had negative dealings with Rosie.
Thank you so much for your great service and for your time today,