Several months ago, we brought you a story on the contemporary and historical issue of unemployment and underemployment that members of our community living with a disability deal with daily.
Adrian Kent-Johnston contributed to that article, and at the time of publication, he said, “I think the reason I haven’t found employment is because people might think I’m a liability, that there might be insurance risks or other issues for whatever reason, they feel they can’t hire me.”
But now Mr Kent-Johnston is very much challenging this perspective, and is busy taking bookings as part of his new business, Adrian’s Animal Companionship, in Melbourne.
He is also finalising his Veterinary Assistant and Animal Welfare course, which includes seven separate certificates in Animal Welfare, Pet Care, Animal Diseases, Animal Healthcare, Animal Conservation, Zookeeping, and Carnivore Zoology.
Mr Kent-Johnston launched his animal companionship business when he arrived in Melbourne.
“I travel to peoples’ houses to look after their animals and provide company and enrichment for them while the owners are away,” he says.
After a steady start, bookings have surged in recent weeks, with Mr Kent-Johnston, “now booked out for all of October, the end of November, and all of December and January”.
With help from his partner, Gabrielle, who designed business cards and shirts, the business is now prominent and visible throughout Melbourne.
“With any business, I have to crawl before I walk, and walk before I run. But I feel very humble that people are taking the time to notice me and to allow me to engage with them. It’s also been great to find work that is fulfilling, and because I am my own boss, I can set the terms of my work.”
The struggles he found in Broken Hill have not materialised in Melbourne.
“I don’t need to drive, instead, I can get on a train or bus to travel to my clients, and I enjoy walking a lot, so the distance is no issue for me.”
His get-up-and-go attitude had enabled him to overcome the struggles of unemployment and underemployment in Broken Hill. He has been able to find an opportunity in Melbourne matching his qualifications and suiting his needs, and as a result, his new business venture is powering along.
‘If I could tell my younger self anything, it would be to adapt to the environment and community I am in, and to be creative,” he says.
“I have been able to find an opportunity that works for me, but I’ve had to work hard to get here and make many sacrifices along the way.”
To see a member of our community, achieve his aspirations after the challenges Mr Kent-Johnston has dealt with, is a cause for celebration. The ability to “turn my weaknesses into my strength,” as Mr Kent-Johnston notes, has been life-changing, and we’re sure the entire community commends Mr Kent-Johnston on achieving his aspirations.