DISABILITY support organisation Wallara, based at Sages Farm, Baxter, says its future expansion depends on receiving $750,000 each from the state and federal governments.
The charity, which helps those living with a disability prepare for and find employment, has invested more than $2 million without receiving any money from government – despite it being two years since CEO Phil Hayes-Brown asked for their support.
“The farm has proven its ability to create jobs,” Hayes-Brown told a lunch last week attended by partners Frankston RSL and St Kilda Football Club. “Local businesses can see what we are doing here and the quality of the work being done. This is how we get more people into the workforce.”
Mr Hayes-Brown said Sages’ mission was to be Australia’s most inclusive farm and also to educate the community through tours and events. He said Wallara helped its clients get job-ready by learning skills in the cafe, growing vegetables, maintaining the gardens, caring for the animals and conducting educational tours on the 16 hectare site.
In the past year eight paid jobs had been created at the farm with 10 more in the pipeline, with construction work to create another 18 roles.
“I’m frustrated because I see the support [we get] from business, from some amazing donors, and I see [how] Wallara invests its funds as a not-for-profit,” Mr Hayes-Brown said.
“I see the outcomes being achieved, but operating out of a 150-year-old heritage cottage is holding us back from achieving more.
“If we can secure just $750,000 each from the federal and state governments we can build an inclusive jobs hub that will enable us to do so much more.”
Frankston RSL and St Kilda Football Club say they are ready to take graduates into paid work off the farm which is run by 60 young people with different abilities, plus some talented support coaches.