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Cottage industry helps recovery

A manufacturing project on Queensland's Fraser coast is offering a creative outlet and vocational skills to people recovering from mental illness.

Red Cross has joined with the Fraser Coast Council and TESS employment agency to run a small cottage manufacturing industry which looks set to be self-sustaining, providing a stepping stone for jobs for vulnerable people.

What began more than a year ago as a group of people getting together to work on small engines such as lawn mowers, has developed into a larger manufacturing incentive, after winning a contract to manufacture plaques and nesting boxes for local parks and gardens across the entire Fraser Coast region.

The plaques will be used to identify plants and animal habitats and the nesting boxes will be for native mammal and birdlife such as lorikeets, galahs, parrots, goannas and possums.

Red Cross local employment service coordinator Tony Quattromani says the venture should be viable well into the future.

"Up to eight of the clients come together four times a week and manufacture small items in metal and wood," he says. "They're gaining a skill set which is helping them work towards their employment goals.

"These are people who are living with a range of mental health issues and it's really helping them overcome some of the barriers they can come up against, such as social isolation, low confidence, low self esteem, dependencies, environmental factors, re-skilling and achieving vocational pathways.

"They gain a sense of belonging, a sense of ownership, and of doing something productive for the community.

"In turn, the community feedback they're receiving is so positive. They're appreciating what the men are creating."

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