Aquaforce, Innisfail, QLD

Two men Jamie and Duane

Hiring a person with disability was the right choice for a Far North Queensland cleaning business looking to add to their six-person team.

Aquaforce Industrial Cleaning owner Duane Amos is glad he hired Jamie, who has turned out to be a top worker.

Jamie has Asperger’s syndrome and finds reading and writing challenging.

“It’s always been difficult through high school and looking for a job, because people don’t usually want to employ somebody with a disability,” Jamie said.

But Duane couldn’t be happier with Jamie’s work.

Duane wants to hang onto Jamie for as long as he can — giving him extra hours at every chance.

“We were told Jamie had Asperger’s syndrome and I said ‘I’m not interested in that. He does a day’s work and he gets a day’s pay’,” Duane said.

In his nine months with Aquaforce, Jamie has become an important team member — building skills and confidence, and taking on more responsibilities over time.

“Jamie is an asset to the business,” Duane said.

“From the start, Jamie has been dependable and ready to learn. He has never turned up for a shift less than half an hour early.”

Duane said it was easy to employ and induct a person with disability into the business.

“It’s just a matter of creating an environment that works for both the employer and employee,” Duane said.

“We try and promote that adult learning environment: explanation, demonstration, then having a crack at it. Then more coaching and mentoring.

“Jamie now can ask for feedback. He’s open enough to say, ‘I’m not comfortable with that yet’.”

Duane and his wife Kathy started Aquaforce in Innisfail, Queensland more than a decade and a half ago — originally cleaning banana packing sheds. The growth of their small business saw them expand into cleaning home and business exteriors, forensic areas, public facilities and solar panels.

As well as cleaning, Jamie preps and checks machines at the end of each work day. He does small system repairs and machine services, and is solely responsible for a regular contract with a local fast food restaurant.

“It made me feel happy that I’ve actually got a job and getting money in the bank. I don’t feel like I’m restricted,” Jamie said.

Duane hopes the skills he is passing on will give Jamie the chance to pursue his career goal to work in mechanics.

Help and financial support are available to small businesses to employ people with disability. Find out more at or phone 1800 464 800 to be put in contact with a service that can connect you with people who are ready to work.

Last updated: