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While many rural communities struggle for resources, the Murray Valley Disability Centre stands as a proactive model on how to provide essential services to regional residents with disabilities.

Originally formed by a group of local parents to provide a venue for children with disabilities to be active and engaged during the day, the Murray Valley Centre (MVC) has developed into a shining example of how to best deliver essential services to rural communities.

MVC is currently celebrating its 57th year as a leader within the Albury-Wodonga community, with demand for services and facilities now more important than ever.

Helping countless children and adults over the past five decades, the centre has gone from strength to strength in recent times, currently providing 45 different day programs each week to over 70 clients.

Operating a wood-workshop, MVC offers people with disabilities greater independence by training adults in the manufacture of all manner of products from dog kennels, builder and survey pegs, tree stakes and children’s furniture, while imparting crucial life skills to the supported employees.

Client Service Manager, Nigel Byron, says that MVC has a positive impact on its clients and the wider community.

“Our supported employees gain self-worth from working, while getting paid a pro-rata wage based on their competency. They’re proud of the work they do and they’re pretty visible in the community,” he said.

“Their families are happy because they observe that the service provided is extremely valuable in allowing their family members to get out and work for a living. We have people coming from as far away as Mt. Beauty and Dederang to attend the program.”

Workshop Supervisor, Heath Meyers states that obtaining a truck as versatile and durable as the Isuzu NNR 45-150 Crew Cab is part of the centre’s long-term plan to keep expanding the vital services offered to the community.

“It can take years but the idea is to get the clients into long-term employment in the wider community,” Heath said.

“Before that they might work here for five to ten years, building up their skill levels.

“Every day they travel a long way to get to work and then we all jump in the truck and head off to the workshop. It’s stop-start all the time, but the Isuzu handles all tasks in a reliable, efficient manner.

“On Fridays, we usually do deliveries. We pile five or six guys into the back of the truck and tour around town, delivering products to industrial sites.”

With a Gross Vehicle Mass of 4,500 kg the NNR can be driven on a standard car licence, and also offers an impressive 110 kW of power at 2,800 rpm and 375 Nm of torque at 1,600 rpm.

The NNR’s ample power and flexibility makes it the perfect fit for the Centre’s hectic schedule.

The Isuzu features an unusually small turning circle (tighter than most utilities on the market), making urban driving more than manageable. Adding to the convenience is its ability to then be parked in a standard car space, an essential requirement amidst a bustling, daily run.

“Isuzu has proven a really good choice when compared to other brands,” Heath said.

“The NNR seems purpose built for what we’re doing and handles everything we demand of it.

“It’s great to drive; easy to navigate through traffic and parking is a breeze. The turning circle’s fantastic – it can easily do a U-turn on a narrow dual lane road.”

Further improving the driver-experience continues to be a key focus for Isuzu, so added to the mix is Isuzu’s popular Digital Audio Visual Equipment (DAVE) unit, complete with 6.2 inch touchscreen, digital radio, voice recognition for hands-free calls and DVD / mp3 playback.

“I believe the favourite feature of the Isuzu for every worker we’ve got here is the air-conditioning,” Heath said with a laugh.

“To this day I still hear comments on how good the air-con is for the back passenger seats.

“On the road the NNR is comfortable and handles really well with a load in the back. Hill Start Aid’s fantastic and the seats are really comfortable. It’s got a lot of power to boot,” he added.

“The space in the cab is fantastic. We can fit seven workers in there comfortably, which makes it ideal for transporting clients.”

Safety, comfort and reliability are all crucial when the service you offer is important to so many people and the team at MVC deserves much praise for the benefits provided to the workers.

Unsurprisingly though, Nigel says their job satisfaction is reward enough.

“The most rewarding part of my job is seeing the clients expand their skill base. The fact they can do it while having fun is an absolute bonus.”