Young business owners are challenging the perception of disability and creating a meaningful work life for themselves

As a boy, Devin O’Sullivan enjoyed shredding things, so it was no surprise that starting a shredding business became his first career move.

Megan Russell loves counting mailboxes on her daily walks and being in her community. Could she happily deliver mail for work, or perhaps a role to match her passion for hot chocolate?

Similar thoughts run through the minds of most school leavers when trying to find a job that matches their talents and passions, but for young people with disabilities, accessing meaningful employment can be a greater struggle.

Because of this, Megan, who is autistic, and Devin, also a young person with autism, both turned to entrepreneurship as a solution.

Uniquely verbal, Devin started his Handy Office Help business in Esperance seven years ago.

It has enabled him to complete tasks based on his skills and preferences, including shredding files and delivering coffee.

The business is so successful that Devin is now able to hire another young man with a disability to help him with the shredding.

This allows Devin to spend more time meeting people in his community and delivering coffee, which is what he enjoys most.

Young man holding a coffee cup and standing in the main street in Esperance
Devin is the owner of Devins Handy Office Help in Esperance.(ABC Goldfields-Esperance: Hayden Smith)

A business that makes sense

Megan’s mother, Jo Russell, a disability advocate, is determined to help her daughter build a career that, like Devin, gives her purpose.

“I want Megan to live an extraordinary life, not an ordinary one,” Ms. Russell said of Megan, who has a variable expression vocabulary.

Megan plans to start her micro business early next year.

In addition to providing an income, Megan wants MegStar Enterprises to focus on giving back to the Goldfields community.

Now in training mode, she’s exploring what she loves to do with the support of her team of disability support workers, a mentor and a business facilitator.

It can be a lengthy process, but Ms Russell says it will be worth the time invested.

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