More than 1,000 workers with a disability back on the job in Queensland

More than 1,000 workers with intellectual disabilities are returning to work in Queensland for the first time since COVID-19 restrictions were imposed.


Among them will be about 70 staff at the Endeavour Foundation in Bundaberg, where packing tonnes of potatoes for major supermarkets, harvesting rows of flowers, and putting popular soft drinks in cartons are all part of the job.


Site manager Robert Campbell said the excitement among the staff was palpable.


"It means a lot; they can be back with their teammates," he said.


Mr Campbell said major retail stores were ready to resume partnerships.


"What our guys do every day is nothing short of amazing," he said.


"When we told Woolworths that we were going to resume they said: 'Welcome back, we look forward to doing business again'."


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Endeavour Flowers: Special flowers for special Mums on Mother's Day(Johanna Marie)


'Best mates' back on the clock


The Bundaberg facility supplies potatoes and onions to supermarkets in Maryborough, Hervey Bay, Bundaberg, and Rockhampton.


A partnership with Bundaberg Brewed Drinks also sees Endeavour Foundation staff pack mixed cartons of soft drink.


An estimated 90 per cent of the Queensland staff will resume their roles after being stood down during lockdown.



Bundaberg Endeavour site manager Robert Campbell is ready and raring to go for a COVID safe return to work. (ABC Wide Bay: Scott Lamond)


Mr Campbell said support from carers and families had been very strong, but nothing could replace workplace camaraderie.


"They're all best mates when they are here," he said.


"We make sure the whole team is looked after — the guys have a canteen where they can buy a pie, sausage rolls and chips for lunch, or a coffee when they have smoko." 


Mr Campbell said it was a bittersweet day. Services in New South Wales were also due to resume this week, but it was unclear when staff could return to their jobs in Victoria.


"Safety is our priority and certainly for staff south of the border, it is heartbreaking given their return to work will be delayed," he said.


The Endeavour Foundation's businesses have developed strict COVID-safe protocols to ensure safety.

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