03 November 2016

Caley Bethune-Alchin has a vital role as chief banana stacker at Woolworths' Warragul store.

 

His other role is less specific but just as important: he is the human face of the store, greeting customers with his beaming smile.

 

"Caley has been fantastic in the rol," says store manager Ricky Proctor. "The customers really like him."

 

Mr Bethune-Alchin, who has Asperger syndrome and cerebral palsy, was introduced to Woolworths by APM, a disability employment provider working with local businesses to find people jobs.

 

APM consultant Karen Ardiente approached several employers in the Warragul and Drouin area, before Woolworths offered him a two week trial in August.

 

Mr Proctor said it was clear within the first week that Mr Bethune-Alchin had a special quality.

 

"He's got a great personality. I've got a lot of employees here who can't engage as well as Caley. He might not be as productive as some others but I want him to be the guy customers can engage with."

 

Mr Bethune-Alchin said he hadn't always been so outgoing. "I used to be quite shy." The job was a great opportunity to give back to the community, he said. I'm also out there earning my keep."

 

Mr Proctor said he believed big employers such as supermarkets should try to place people with disabilities where it worked for both parties.

 

"As a store manager, I take social responsibility quite seriously. It's a conversation I had with some of my store managers here. We can't help everyone but if we can't help people like Caley, who's going to? It's been a real win-win for both of us."

 

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