The Hardy Road

Image: Penong-based business owner Tim Hardy completing a work delivery (Source: Penong Rural Supplies)

For the last 30 years, Tim Hardy has run his own rural supplies business in the Wheatbelt town of Penong; located over 600kms north-west of the South Australian state capital of Adelaide.

“I like to get out and about, and love my wide open spaces,” he says.

Tim’s business Penong Rural Supplies offers a wide range of farm and rural merchandise and on-site farm installation services, including water pumps and pipe fittings.

“Most of my job is to go out and fit a pump, or something to do on the farm,” he adds.

Following a motor bike accident while working on the farm in 1989, Tim experienced a severe spinal injury resulting in paraplegia. 

At work, it meant facing some challenges when performing hands-on tasks, such as performing deliveries, conducting installations and welding.

“Some things I just couldn’t do and would have to wait for someone to help me,” says Tim.

For several years, he had been operating his rural enterprise independently from his wheelchair.

Apart from his day-to-day work, Tim kept himself busy by rescuing and restoring broken-down windmills to create the famed windmill museum that, today, is synonymous with the town of Penong.

It was only recently that Tim learnt about the Australian Government service JobAccess and funding available through the Employment Assistance Fund (EAF) for modifications to support people with disability in employment. He went on to lodge an online EAF application through the JobAccess website.

Did you know:

  • The Australian Government’s Employment Assistance Fund (EAF) is available to people with disability who are about to start work, are currently employed or self-employed.
  • The EAF provides financial assistance for any adjustments or modifications in the workplace.
  • JobAccess has managed more than 50,000 applications for workplace adjustments or modifications funded through the EAF.

Soon after lodging his application, Tim was contacted by JobAccess Professional Adviser Kim Bermingham to discuss eligibility requirements for the EAF, understand some of the barriers he experiences at work and organise a free workplace modification assessment. 

Such an assessment is conducted by a qualified professional, who will look at the workplace and help identify any barriers that may exist. The Assessor will talk with the applicant (and their employer, where applicable) to find solutions to make the workplace more flexible and accessible.

Tim says, “The best part about working with JobAccess was the Assessor came from Adelaide and spent about two to three hours with me. He listened, was very understanding and helpful, and told me about different supports I didn’t know exist.”

One of the items Tim received included an electric crane mounted to his trailer. “I am now able to lift things that I need to take. It is easier to lift, move and install solar pumps,” he explains. “I don’t have to wait for anyone to come and help me.”

Tim says supports he’s received through JobAccess have helped keep him employed for longer.

“It’s like a dream come true. I’d look at things and say ‘I can’t do it’. But with the right supports, you can. It makes all the difference.”

The Employment Assistance Fund (EAF) provides employers and employees with disability with financial assistance to help cover the costs of making adjustments in the workplace. You can contact JobAccess on 1800 464 800 to learn more about the EAF and for support with lodging an EAF application.

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