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Jigsaw Industries Case Study 2015

July 14, 2016

Last updated on April 3, 2018


Jobs created: 13 (1 manager, 1 supervisor, 11 beneficiary employees (PT), 1 disabled volunteer)

Number of individuals that have gone on to employment in the open market: 3

Proportion of revenue that comes from trade: 40%

Stage of the enterprise: Partially sustainable


Jigsaw industries giving purpose to adults with intellectual disability

Jigsaw Industries is an Australian Disability Enterprise operated by Mawarra from a factory purchased 10 years ago. They offer packaging and timber processing services to business partners in Gippsland. Jigsaw’s purpose is to create supported employment, training and skills development within a safe working environment for individuals with a disability. Employees earn a wage and experience the social inclusion that comes from being part of a workforce.

Business model

Jigsaw employs a manager and a supervisor, along with 11 intellectually disabled workers (five of whom are full time and six part- time). There are two major business streams.

  • Packaging for Jindi Cheese where workers assemble large quantities of cheese boxes with components for distribution to supermarkets.
  • Timber processing for Australian Sustainable Hardwoods where employeesdock, trench, collate, strap and pack timber products.

From a viable and well equipped manufacturing area Jigsaw provides quality products in a timely manner at a reasonable price. Employees are paid a supported wage for this work and are prepared for open employment, exceeding government modest target of 5%.

Income earned by Jigsaw for this work represents 40% of revenue.

Making a difference

The employment that Jigsaw offers its 11 employees with a disability is transformative, helping to build confidence, skills and good work habits. The social and economic impacts for individuals are significant, enabling many of them to live independently.

From Jigsaw’s perspective the employees enjoy their work and the social network that comes with it. Jigsaw is implementing a satisfaction survey that will more clearly quantify this.

A new outlook with Social Traders

The next step for Jigsaw is to diversify their sources of work. “The issue is that there are only 2 eggs in the basket and we want to provide more variety for our employees.” In 2014 Jigsaw received business support and training from Social Traders. “It was good to have a sounding board, to have people who understand the business and what we want to achieve that can help with strategic thinking,” said Jeff. This partnership has identified four key priorities for the organisation to be sustainable in the long term.

  • Extra work streams
  • Formalised contracts with business partners
  • Rigorous financial reporting
  • Satisfaction surveys to measure employee engagement

These initiatives are all in progress. They have identified like-minded business partners who are keen to explore opportunities to work with Jigsaw. They are formalising contractual arrangements with business partners and working with Social Traders on implementing their Financial Dashboard approach for reporting. The satisfaction survey is in development.

This year Jigsaw has received grants from Sustainability Victoria, the Jack Brockhoff Foundation and RACV which will be used to upgrade timber processing equipment. This modernisation will make the workplace safer and better placed for expansion.

Future focus

Matching the capacity of the business to customer demand and timeframes is a challenge, but equipment upgrades will facilitate increased capacity. Through Social Traders, Jigsaw is currently working with Gale Pacific and talking to others regarding additional business streams that satisfy the multiple objectives of achievable outputs, additional income and developing employees’ skills.

Jigsaw’s goal is to increase the number employed from 11 to 20 in the next three years and raise the proportion of income from trade to at least 50%.

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