MOVING SIGHT: Henry Plant Hire are already making ready the area for the building site.THE turning of the first sod for the newAccess Industries for the Disabled was madeat a small ceremony in Inch Street, Lithgowwith the honour going to long term workersSheryl Butler and Janet Cooper.

At the ceremony was Access presidentNorman Drew who outlined the history andfuture.

The year 2014 marks the 65thAnniversary of Access Industries for theDisable Ltd. It was back in April 1949 that asmall group of people with physical disabilitiesjoined together to form a self help andmutual support group for people who hadnot acquired their disabilities as a result ofwar service.

As such, it was one of the very first organisationsof its type sets up in Australia.

Today, Access Industries operates threedivisions, comprising six separate sites, allcommitted to pursuing this aim.

These sites are located at Seven Hills(where we have two facilities), Erskine parkand Horsley park in the Sydney metropolitanarea; Hamilton in Newcastle and here atLithgow.

Between them, these divisions provideemployment, training and support for closeto 250 people with disabilities.

Access Industries did not establish theoperations here at Lithgow. At the request ofthe local community they stepped in backin 1978 to ensure the continuation of theoperations of a service that had originallybeen set up by the Lithgow Branch of a formerlarge organisation for people with disabilities,known as Aid Retarded persons, orARP.

At the time, ARP was experiencing afinancial crisis that threatened the closureof many of its services across NSW, includingLithgow, and would have resulted in theloss of employment opportunities for peoplewith disabilities in the area.

Since that time, Access Industries hadmaintained and improved the service,largely from its own resources, in order torespond to the needs of the local community.

The former Access Industries buildingwas in Hartley Valley Road and wasdestroyed by fire on the night of August 1,2013.

This was a devastating blow for the operations.

Since that time, they have been operatingin interim premises, and with the support ofseveral laundry colleagues, who haveenabled them to maintain their commitmentsto their many valued laundry customerswhile they found suitable land forthe new laundry and negotiat6ed buildingplans and Council approval to proceed.

The president Norm Drew thanked themanagement and staff of Glenray laundry atBathurst, t6he RNG Laundry at Bathurst,Healthshare Laundry in Orange, theBathurst Correctional Centre Laundry,Western White Linen, the ARV laundry inGlendenning, and the Alladin laundry inNorth Parramatta for helping us out in theirtime of need.

Thanks also was expressed to theLithgow Council for assisting us to find suitableland for their new laundry, and processingthe Development Application sothey can proceed.

Thanks was also expressed to their manyvalued business customers for theirpatience and loyalty during what has been avery difficult period and also thanks to BrettMoulds, of Brett Moulds Design and SteveWatts of Wattsbuild, who assisted with thedesign of the new laundry.

The new laundry is a major project forAccess Industries.

In total, there will be close to $3 millioninvested on the project, to cover the cost ofthe new block of land; the construction andfit out of the new building; all new modernequipment and the supply of needed servicesand utilities such as electricity and water.

When it is completed, it will be a modern,state of the art laundry providing excellentemployment conditions for all currentemployees, and hopefully for futureemployees in need of the services and support.

Mr Drew thanked the Lithgow Lions Clubfor assisting them with the celebration ofthe turning of the first sod and providingthem with the use of their trailer-barbecue,and to the Lions’ volunteers who assisted onthe day.

It is now all systems go for the future ofthe new building.

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