Having both been supported by Challenge Disability Services in Muswellbrook for a number of years, Matthew Richards and Jack Nebauer are well on their way to living more independent lives. We sat down with Matthew and Jack to talk about Challenge, the Denman Men’s Shed and new career goals.

A variety of experiences with Challenge Disability Services

Matthew started working with Challenge in 2016 while Jack joined a year later, and both say one of the main reasons for doing so was to gain support through work experience and career guidance.

But the by-product of their time at Challenge has involved a number of unique experiences. From overnight trips to Lake Keepit and Lake Burrendong camps, to visiting the Denman Men’s Shed and just everyday fun activities like playing pool and spending time in the garden. Or, in Jack’s case, one of his favourite activities is “annoying Trish [my support worker].”

Jack says Challenge has helped him develop a range of skills for independent living: “I like to do cooking, and if I move out of home I will be able to cook by myself.”

For Matthew, the real value from his time at Challenge Muswellbrook has been finding himself on an ideal career trajectory: “A young entrepreneur boot camp trip to Newcastle inspired me to start my own IT business.”


Learning from others’ experiences – Denman Men’s Shed

Going beyond the close-knit community at Challenge, Support Worker Trish arranged for both young men to visit the Denman Men’s Shed as part of their community access support services. After a successful initial visit, the pair have been attending the program on their own time independently.

Jack says the company and support at the Men’s Shed has helped him in a number of different ways, whether that’s through physical activities like painting and building, or simply improving his interpersonal communication skills like shaking hands and learning how to tell jokes.

“I can walk by myself independently [to places in the community],” Jack says. “I have made new friendships and feel like I belong somewhere.”

Matthew loves the physical activities as well. He’s been oiling and sealing bird boxes during his time at the Men’s Shed, and even learnt how to handle an air-powered nail gun.

“I enjoyed making my own wooden toy truck,” Matthew says, “and sitting down with the men in the afternoon, chatting while having a can of soft drink.”

Supporting a new career and independence

In terms of short-term goals, both Jack and Matthew are keen to find steady work at Koora Industries – a local business operated by Challenge providing Supported Employment for people with a disability.

For Jack’s mum, Felisha, she believes the time her son has spent with both Challenge and at the Denman Men’s Shed has significantly boosted Jack’s confidence and independence, which will play a huge role as he enters the workforce.

“Socially, Jack has come so far,” Felisha says. “I never thought he would be able to approach other men in the street and shake their hands. I can’t thank the team at Challenge enough for their services and for introducing Jack to the Men’s Shed.”

Opportunities through the Supported Employment initiative

Challenge Business Services provides Supported Employment opportunities for people with a disability in NSW’s Upper Hunter and North West regions. In Muswellbrook, Koora Industries manufactures and supplies quality timber products and also offers lawn maintenance and assembling and packing.

You can find out more about Challenge Business Services here.

If you would like more information about community access for young people with a disability, or Supported Employment with Challenge, please give us a call on 1800 679 129 or visit our Disability Services page.