IMPORTANT SERVICE EXPANDING, ASSISTING SKILLS SHORTAGE
Wheelnutz Garage is a small family business teaching people with disabilities how to repair and restore vehicles
The only one of its kind in Australia, the service delivered by Wheelnutz Garage was born out of a home garage on the Gold Coast in late 2020.
Owner operators Gavin McCarthy and Jade Burgmann together enjoyed supporting people with disabilities to explore Southeast Queensland in the back of a four-wheel drive, packed with swags and kayaks.
For many, Wheelnutz Garage is a stepping-stone to paid employment. And for the automotive industry, it offers a solution to staffing challenges with a commitment to strong community partnerships, building pathways for future training and employment, and promoting inclusion for people with disabilities in the automotive industry.
A non-running Nissan Patrol at home was the inspiration to create an opportunity for these young people to not only enjoy a weekend of camping but to learn how to fix any mechanical issues and learn how to use the recovery gear they would often see, on their trips to the Sunshine Coast or the Glasshouse mountains.
For Gavin and Jade, it was an opportunity to introduce young people with disabilities to the four-wheel drive community, and in turn, teach meaningful skills, pathways to employment and a social setting for those interested in cars, bikes and all things automotive.
Now operating from two garages and with a third in the planning, they are determined to create an environment for people with Autism, sensory difficulties, acquired brain injury and neurological conditions to build friendships and grow their capacity for future employment and independence.
Recognising the sensory challenges a working automotive garage brings, experienced, skills staff with an automotive background are handpicked, equipment selected and strategies now common place on the garage floor, ensuring that everyone can participate to their capacity, and everyone’s contribution is valued.
Like all good things, the cost in time and money is significant. To ensure the program is accessible for everyone, Gavin and Jade also work weekends to afford the tools and equipment for the program to run and to provide a free BBQ lunch each day, and for those who turn up daily without breakfast, they have something to eat before the program starts.
Wheelnutz Garage is operated by Adventure Crew Pty Ltd, on the Gold Coast and in Logan, Queensland.
For more information, visit www.wheelnutzgarage.com