OCC Enterprises’ Learning and Assessment Manager, Athena Kontonis, celebrates 24 years with OC Connections this year. We caught up with her to find out what she’s been up to all these years!
Where did you start your journey with OCC?
I started with what was then Oakleigh Centre Industries, when it was located at 773 Warrigal Road, as a third year university placement student, working alongside the Employment Supports Manager. I was then offered some casual work for six months before I headed off on an overseas holiday to celebrate the end of uni. On my return I commenced work as a production supervisior, a position I held for 6-7 years.
When audits became mandatory within the sector, I took on the role of Quality Coordinator with some additional work in RecLine (recreation activities) and Community Living. For the last ten or so years I have been working as a Learning and Assessment Manager. However, that role has changed significantly over the years too.
What are the biggest changes you have seen in the disability sector since you have been working?
The biggest change in employment for people with disability is the move away from the “Sheltered Workshop” idea without any career development into real employment where employees and their goals are valued and we work with them to achieve their employment goals, whatever that may be. It’s exciting!
What have been the challenges you’ve faced in this sector?
It can be very demanding as you are dealing with people’s lives, self-worth and confidence and have to deal with both their fears and their families plus the constraints of funding before you can take the step into meaningful employment. There’s not enough hours in the day, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Its a fun place to work and I love it.
And your favourite part about working here?
The people. I know it’s cliche, but seeing them give something a go even though it is out of their comfort zone and simply because of the trust they have in us makes my day.
Image above: OCC Enterprises’ Learning and Assessment Manager, Athena Kontonis