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A photo of Wayne, a 60 year old customer with Workskil Australia, standing in front of his truck.

Sixty and Going Strong

Wayne proves age is just a number. After a heart attack and a cancer diagnosis, Workskil Australia helped him retrain and find a new job he loves.

28/03/24

With more than five decades in the workforce, you might expect that Wayne would be ready to retire. But the 60-year-old has never lost his passion for physical work, even after a string of recent health battles.

“I loved outdoor, hands-on work – hard yakka,” he said. “Always have, always will.”

It all started at a young age, with a job mowing the lawn of a local supermarket owner in Tennant Creek to help his Mum with the weekly bills.

“Legally he couldn’t employ me in the supermarket because of my age, so he gave me a job mowing his lawn,” Wayne recalls.

Jobs later followed in South Australia, from pumping petrol at local gas stations and vehicle servicing to concreting, construction, painting, and fencing.

A “jack of all trades and a master of some” is how Wayne describes himself.

In May 2022, Wayne suffered a heart attack and took 12 months off work to recuperate.

“I wanted to get another job and I was advised by Centrelink to speak with an agency,” he said.

“Workskil Australia linked me with training courses to gain qualifications formalising a lot of the skills and knowledge I already had. I got skid, steer and roller licences and the accreditation to work at heights, in confined spaces and in basic construction.”

Through Workskil Australia, Wayne was connected with a 10-week ‘work hardening’ program, run by Carey Training and Port Pirie Regional Council, designed to prepare unemployed locals for physical work.

“Most participants were younger and just starting out, so I was able to help and guide them, which I really enjoyed.”

Wayne accepted a role with the civil construction company CATCON starting just before Christmas, but a fortnight into his new job, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

“CATCON said they thought I was a keeper and to take as much time as I needed, and when I was ready, there would still be a job for me,” he said.

Following successful radiation treatment, Wayne is now preparing to “get back to work.”

“I get pretty emotional when I talk about it,” he said. "I thought about retiring after my heart attack - I wasn’t sure if I would be wanted, but Workskil Australia really motivated me and gave me the confidence to keep going."

“It’s more than money; it’s about purpose. I’ve got a great family but there’s nothing like having work mates and the satisfaction you get through your work.”


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