Patrick developed a love of driving at a very young age. His family became members of a 4WD club and they began enjoying frequent long road trips when Patrick was 6 and sadly back then he was forced to drive from the back seat. Patrick first became interested in buses in primary school and he loved sitting at the back, holding on to the hand rail, and pretending he was the driver.


Patrick always wanted to be a bus driver.


Patrick went to Heatherwood School, an Australian high school for students with mild intellectual disabilities. In Year 11 he launched his bus driving career with his first part-time job. Patrick was cleaning buses and he stuck at it for many years until the company was sold. It was this same determination that got Patrick his driver’s licence. To get experience he drove to school every Friday morning, his dad’s day off work, and in the afternoon they’d drive to the family’s holiday house in Matlock which was three hours away. Eventually accumulating more than 200 hours of driving experience Patrick got his driver’s licence.


At Heatherwood Senior School students have the choice of participating in the Learn To Work Program. The program is the life’s passion of the school’s career’s mentor, Mark Walker.


The goals of the program are:


1. Working in a job like factory floor employment, is often accepted by those who feel they have no other choice.

2. Long term sustainable employment like Government subsidised employment can be for some which only provide short term employment. Gaining real skills through training ensures employees provide value to their employers once their subsidies finish.

3. Open employment means mainstream employment and not within a supported work environment or as they are traditionally known, sheltered workshops. Many employees in these work settings are paid as little as $10 for a full day’s work while receiving a government pension.

4. Financial Independence

No productivity tested wage rates.

The pay rates of people with disabilities are often halved or worse because their productivity is deemed to be less than the average employee.

No government pensions.

This makes car and home ownership impossible.


Through Mark and the Learn To Work Program and with the support of his family, Patrick started looking for opportunities to turn his passion into a career. In his last year of school Patrick completed a one day a week work placement with US Bus Lines. This led to a traineeship the following year which meant Patrick had on-the-job one-on-one mentoring and assistance from Skills Plus while studying for a variety of qualifications. MEGT offered on-the-job regular assessments of his work and study which helped him to avoid a more structured and potentially stressful off-site study environment that required less regular topic cramming. These strategies helped Patrick to understand and apply the course material in a real way, so success was more achievable.


Then Patrick took a job at Nadrasca, a supported employment facility. He was trained in warehouse operations, drove the forklift and made deliveries in their medium rigid truck. Over the four years Patrick gained confidence by increasing the distance of his trips and the amount of traffic he was comfortable with until eventually he was travelling inter state.


Patrick’s single-minded focus on his goal created the impetus to attain Taxi accreditation which is required to carry passengers on a bus. Once achieved Patrick’s confidence in his abilities helped him to start looking for open employment. With the help of eFocus, a Disability Employment Service, Patrick prepared a resume and practiced his interview skills. At the age of 25 Patrick’s dream was realised when he commenced work as bus driver with Quince’s Coaches in May 2017.


I’d like to thank the people who allowed me to believe in myself. My Mum, Dad, Tamara, my sister and Mark Walker. I hope by sharing my story with other students with special needs, their parents and their teachers will also believe in their ability to achieve.

Marian, Patrick’s mother

Patrick has achieved his dream job as a bus driver and may I point out that these are real buses, in the real community. Patrick now works with the bus driver who drove him to school at the age of six. Patrick had his heart set on bus driving from that age. I thank everyone that supported Patrick with his dream, especially Mark Walker and Nadrasca. We never gave up. Patrick is committed and professional. He proudly wears his Quince’s uniform and I thank them for giving Patrick a fair go. I believe they are very happy with his progress and commitment to the job. Patrick arrives an hour early before his shift starts to allow for traffic or hazards that could be incurred on the way. I am the proudest Mum in the world. It has been an amazing journey and I am sure Patrick will never change his job. Patrick said “It’s already Thursday Mum” and I replied “That’s what happens when you love your job”.

Mark Walker, Heatherwood School,career’s mentor

Focus on your abilities, not your disabilities
Everyone learns at a different rate
Having sight isn’t the same as having vision



Driver’s licence

Certificates I,II & III Transport Logistics

Forklift licence

Heavy Rigid (HR) truck licence

Certificate I Work Education

Taxi accreditation

Working With Children Check


Career Pathway


Heatherwood School in Donvale, Victoria, Australia

Level attained: Year 12 in 2010

Special school prerequisite IQ range 50 -70


Vic Bus

Period of employment: 4 years part-time

Commenced work during Year 11 and continued until the company was sold

Duties: Bus cleaning


Skills Plus

Training centre (post school): initially 6 months two days a week then concurrently with traineeship
Qualifications: Certificate I, II & III Transport Logistics and forklift licence


US Bus Lines

Work placement (Year 12): 12 months one day per week (unpaid)

Traineeship (post school): 2.5 years two days per week

Qualifications: Certificate I Diesel Mechanics (unfinished)

Duties: Cleaning the buses inside and out, cleaning the lunch rooms and assisting in the workshop doing basic bus servicing

After independently obtaining a Heavy Rigid (HR) licence Patrick’s duties included moving the buses around in the yard but not onto the road.



Period of employment: 4 years

Qualifications: Certificate I Work Education

Duties: Warehouse operations, fork lift driving, local and inter state deliveries in medium rigid truck

Wage rate: Supported employment rates + government pension


Quince’s Coaches

Commenced: May 2017

Hours: Full-time + over-time

Wage rate: Full award wages

Duties: Bus driver