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Cherie Raffan: Ability Options: Westfield Local Heroes 2019

Building self-belief and helping people find work

Sparkling. Professional. Committed

Cherie Raffan has been an employment adviser for people with disabilities for thirteen years because she loves helping people.

Some of her clients are highly qualified but are struggling to find a position; others have never worked or have no recent work history. Many have a mental illness.

Cherie enjoys proving them wrong if they don’t believe they will find a job.

“We say that right now you’re a little bit stuck, grab my hand, and we will drag you out of it.”

Some clients are fearful of employment, fearful of failure or fearful of bullying. “We help them overcome those barriers,” says Cherie. “We try to keep them positive and focused. It might mean creating a resume for someone who has never had a resume or upskilling them to open new doors.”

Cherie feels both embarrassed and honoured to be voted a Westfield Local Hero. “I don’t see myself as extraordinary. But I am so very grateful to everyone who voted for me. It’s a huge honour for disability employment services to be recognised.”

She believes people should encourage and support each other to reach their potential, and always takes care to treat her clients as individuals.

“Listening to people - really listening to them – and working out how they want to be helped and how I can help them is the first part of connecting with people in this industry,” Cherie says.

Once a client has a job, Cherie and a multidisciplinary team provide ongoing support to help them thrive in their new role.

“Seeing any unemployed client return to the workforce is incredibly rewarding,” says Cherie.

Westfield Local Heroes are nominated and voted for by their communities, with the three top finalists per Westfield centre each awarded a $10,000 grant for their affiliated organisation.

Ability Options will use its grant to fund driving lessons for ten young clients.

“Having a licence would mean the world to them. It can change someone’s future,” says Cherie.

“Many positions that our clients would love are ruled out because they can't reach them on public transport.”

__For further information on the Westfield Local Heroes program, click here. __

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