Chewyings Lawn and Horticulture (CLH) has been providing quality lawn and garden care and property management to the Shoalhaven region of NSW for over 10 years. This is a successful self made business and a model for Aboriginal communities and people wanting to move out of Community Development Employment Programs (CDEP) and into the mainstream labour market.
Rob and Melinda Chewying have developed a bridging tool for Indigenous and disabled people to move from welfare or funded employment, like CDEP, into mainstream employment with award wages and conditions. They started out in Nowra, rural NSW, with barely $300 but with a lot of determination, understanding of marginalised workers and Indigenous heritage.
Cultural diversity, disabilities and social structures, plus the needs of running the business, were all considered and systems were developed to integrate people on welfare into mainstream work.
The business model is basic but financially viable and has the potential to be expanded into other regions and industries. Rob and Melinda are now thinking other like minded individuals or organisations may be interested in following their lead and a social franchise might be a possibility.
CLH employees work when they wish. They work for as little or as long as they want and yet earn a real wage that is not subsidised like work at sheltered workshops, trainee positions, the CDEP etc. The first step of building the bridge between welfare and the mainstream workforce is a job system that educates and supports welfare recipients to gain the confidence to take the next step into the real economy.
The CLH success is in the systems Rob and Melinda have developed that marry the needs and wants of customers with the special needs of the CLH work force in low key way:
Lawn mowing and gardening work is the bulk of the CLH business. This is sold as a quality service and at no time is the fact that non-mainstream people are employed used to promote this service.
CLH provides employment for Indigenous people, welfare recipients, the aged, long term unemployed and disabled persons. They get the opportunity to break out of the poverty cycle, which may be the only lifestyle they have ever been exposed to.
Although there would be a certain ‘sympathy vote’, CLH feel the advertising of their staff’s special needs to gain work would be totally defeating the integrity of their philosophy. The standard of work is certainly comparable, if not superior, to other local businesses in the same industry.
CLH therefore simply caters for householders or organizations that want a reliable lawn and/or gardening service, of a high standard and are prepared to pay an appropriate, competitive market price for this service.
By being positive and motivated in the business, the development of an employee can be as satisfying, if not more so, from any monetary gain. They can become business people in their own right.
CHL has received numerous awards and recognition. The CLH model has recently been profiled in the DEWR publication, ‘Building the Future through Enterprise’ and DEWR is nominating Chewying’s Lawn & Horticulture in the TELSTRA awards. CLH has also been profiled in the newspaper, The Australian.
Are you an Aboriginal person or a disabilities group looking to replicate CLH ideas?
View Rob and Melinda’s powerpoint presentation.
Phone: (02) 4423 1084
Fax: (02) 4423 1054
Congratulations and good luck with your social franchise Rob and Melinda.