In early 2022, Borne Clothing partnered with Avenue, an Australian social enterprise which empowers people with disability to complete work tasks, socialise and develop individual skills regardless of their support needs. Team members at Avenue will be providing a skilled order fulfilment service for Borne Clothing.

What is Avenue?

Avenue, an enterprise of Fighting Chance Australia, is an innovative day program which empowers people with disability to complete work tasks, socialise and develop individual skills regardless of their support needs. Their mission is to build a national network of co-working spaces, bringing world-class work, social and learning opportunities to people of all abilities.

Avenue’s purpose is steeped in personal experience. The co-founders Laura and Jordan O’Reilly set out to create a better future for people like their younger brother, Shane. As a person born with a profound physical disability, Shane found that meaningful opportunities to work, to develop new skills, or to otherwise engage with the broader community were limited.

Why is this work important?

At an event celebrating the opening of the Newcastle branch, Laura spoke to how much this affected her younger brother. On the wall behind her, Laura projected a photo of Shane that spoke to the heart of the enterprise: he was in a wheelchair, keeping the lawn tidy with a mower that was attached to his chair and deftly controlled with his legs. In spite of the physical barriers to participation, Laura stressed that his involvement in the everyday household work was central to their family’s philosophy.

Laura emphasises that this philosophy is a core belief at Avenue, and that the organisation, “...flips the traditional models of work on their heads, by redesigning traditional workflows to meet people’s abilities and support needs”.

In other words, “Work should be accessible to all.”

What will this partnership look like?

The partnership with Avenue means that their team members will take on the full responsibility of Borne Clothing’s order fulfilment. The activities that Avenue participants undertake are driven by their own goals. These may be as varied as building confidence with public speaking, improving manual skills, or developing competency in using software like Microsoft Excel.

Members of the team working with Borne Clothing will take control of stock management, order fulfilment, and record-keeping. That last one is a particularly important responsibility, since it factors into the fees that Avenue charges. Participants work towards self-directed remuneration goals that are filled from a profit share model. (For more information on how this works, head to the Avenue FAQ page).

Avenue - Disability support Borne

After a quick walkthrough of our fulfilment guide with Dan, our colleagues at Avenue have already taken full charge of the process. Inside each of those boxes is a short message about Avenue, and how their purchase is supporting the enterprise’s overarching mission.

Why we’ve chosen to partner with Avenue

The approach we’ve taken to building a supply chain has been simple: we can’t generate a net positive social impact if we’re harming the people and places involved in creating our product.

But it shouldn’t just be about avoiding negatives. It should be about adding positive value.

Joining up with Avenue has meant adding something meaningful to an otherwise basic process, and we’re thrilled to be a part of their mission.

For our co-founder, Tim, this is a particularly meaningful step.

“I’ve had the privilege of growing up with Ehren. Ehren, my older brother (and boy does he like to remind me he’s older), has Down Syndrome. Now a young man, Ehren has always sought independence. He wants to live in his own house, he wants to travel to the footy on the weekends by himself to catch up with friends, and he wants to work.

Ehren and Tim Keys

Ehren currently works 4 days a week in an office in Canberra and he loves it. Work for Ehren is a way to socialise, a means of continuing to develop his skills, and, like so many of us, a source of personal fulfilment. But it is not only for personal gain that Ehren works. By working Ehren also contributes to the community. He is an active player in the economy, a key part of his team at the company and a colleague and friend to so many people.

In fact, his extremely social nature sometimes comes close to impeding his work. He’s the first to ask you how your weekend was or to notice your new haircut. But in an office of over 50 people, this level of conversation could easily lead to a late start to the day or a longer than expected lunch. It’s lucky that Ehren is surrounded by colleagues who support him greatly, both socially and with his tasks, so he still has time to get his work done as well as ask you about your recent holiday away with your family.

By partnering with Avenue, my personal hope is that Borne can play a role in their mission and help provide a workplace experience to a whole new group of people living with disabilities in Newcastle.

Their unique business model enables team members with a range of disabilities to pursue personal fulfilment, grow their social circles and contribute to the wider community in a way that is supported to meet their needs.”

July 11, 2022 — Bal Dhital