Knee injury no barrier for Coffs Harbour gardener

When a serious knee injury put a halt to Anthony White’s job as a groundsman at a local primary school, he was forced to think outside the box about his career options.

At 63, Mr White from Coffs Harbour, wasn’t quite ready for retirement but needed to find work in an industry that was less physically demanding.

That’s when he approached not-for-profit training and employment organisation, VERTO, who provided him with support and guidance through the Disability Employment Services (DES) program. The program is funded by the Department of Social Services.

Fast forward two years, and Mr White has successfully completed a Certificate III in Disability Support through TAFE and is now working in a support role for LiveBetter in Nambucca Heads.

Mr White said while it was a career change he didn’t see coming, he couldn’t be happier with his new job which combines his passion of gardening with his new skills in disability support.

“I’m helping a team of young men living with disability to complete gardening and maintenance work in the local area,” he said.

“I never thought it would be possible to be back in the area of maintenance, but without all the hard physical work.

“I love the fact my role is very diverse, from helping solve problems with the team to preparing invoices for the work completed – it really is a dream job,” Mr White said.

VERTO’s DES Client Consultant, Helen Forrest, said Mr White is a great example of how anyone can change their circumstances through hard work, determination and support.

“VERTO works with many clients like Mr White who need support after an injury. It has been inspiring seeing him retrain and find a new job that still incorporates his love of gardening,” she said.

VERTO’s Chief Executive Officer, Ron Maxwell, said finding meaningful employment after injury doesn’t have to be an overwhelming experience.

“A serious injury can have implications for people who work in physically demanding jobs, but it doesn’t have to define or limit your employment opportunities,” he said.

“It might be a matter of reframing your existing skillset or getting some training with an RTO to upskill in a different area of work.

“It's something we see every day at VERTO, and stories like Mr White's make me so proud of what our team and our clients can achieve together,” Mr Maxwell said.

For more information on how VERTO can assist, visit or phone 1300 4 VERTO (1300 487 386).