There’s no denying many people living with disabilities face obstacles entering the workforce. While many lack confidence from the challenges their disability can bring, workplaces often don’t have the understanding and acceptance to accomodate for them.
Lake Munmorah-based Jarrad Taylor is on the autism spectrum and has always had an extraordinary passion for garbage trucks, even as a 10-year-old boy. Fast forward 8 years and the 18-year-old has now landed his dream job as a Bin Puller and Runner at Cleanaway, Australia’s leading waste management organisation.
In this interview, Jarrad shares his experiences and advice for others with autism looking for work.
- When and how did your passion for garbage trucks begin?
Ever since birth really! My first interaction was when I was a toddler, trotting out to the driveway to explore after I heard the roar of a truck out the front. I was fascinated by how tall and long the truck was, and especially interested by its automated arm picking up my garbage bin. Since then, I’ve become really involved in the industry. I began to know the drivers that did my street, and then nearly all drivers on the Central Coast! The automated arms are the piece of technology that really kickstarted my passion. It seemed so unique and different compared to all other types of trucks on our roads. Garbage trucks in general, are a very cool, loud, and interesting type of truck.
- How has that passion evolved over time?
After I started pursuing my passion, I decided to start my own YouTube channel (JT Garbo) where I’d document the operations of these trucks. I started, and views and subscribers sky-rocketed. I soon realised that there is a huge market for this type of content on YouTube. Back when I started, I was producing basic videos of the garbage trucks in my street. As I got to know many more drivers over the years, I would then start to venture into other suburbs and cities to film garbage trucks operating in those different scenes and environments. In 2014, I was in the Express Advocate newspaper, at the Somersby Depot (where I now work for Cleanaway – where I’ve dreamed to work) where they let me on my birthday wash my favourite garbage truck. Since I entered adulthood, I still carry out filming the trucks alongside my new dream job.
I’m now living up to the name of JT Garbo as a garbo with Cleanaway Somersby, providing effective and sustainable waste services to the Central Coast.
- What is JT Garbo and what makes you excited about this YouTube channel?
JT Garbo is a channel I started eight years ago, and since then, I’ve been filming garbage trucks on the Central Coast and surrounding councils. I plan on doing so for the rest of my life, alongside my job as a garbo at Cleanaway. The fact of knowing you have a fanbase who are excited to see your content is one of the things that warms me up inside and makes me want to continue to do it; communal support is overwhelming. Profit from doing YouTube is decent as well, but it’s not all about the money, it’s about sharing my hobby to the public. So far, my channel has been seen 600,000 times across 92 countries around the world. I have got to know and make friends with many of my subscribers and viewers, they love what I do to the point where I have also inspired them to start filming garbage trucks.
I love going out and filming the garbage trucks. It’s like bird watching or trainspotting, but with garbage trucks! I can go deep into the models of the garbage trucks, the trucks’ numbers, their manufacturer and their specs. I can even look back into the history of the industry, researching waste companies and operations from by-gone eras.
- How did you turn your passion into your job?
I had some local garbos approach me one day in my street while they were working to let me know an opening for a starting role as a garbo, an offsider, had opened. Within a very short time after applying, I had heard back and was successful. I believe the hobby and my YouTube channel went to show my dedication, and I do believe this helped me reach my dream job as a garbo at Cleanaway.
- Were there any challenges during the job application process? Tell me about working with Cleanaway.
The job application process was very direct, very transparent and straight-forward – especially for me, everything made sense as I had been following how the industry operated since I was young. Cleanaway has welcomed me with open arms and I’m so grateful for that. This is more than a job, a workplace, this is my happy place, this is my childhood dream come true, and I have loved working as a garbo since I started here at Cleanaway. It is a fantastic industry, you get to be outdoors, you meet people in the community and you do a community service. It empowers me every day, I just love it so much.
- What’s your advice to others with autism who are looking for work?
Follow your dreams, go big, have a hobby based on your dream industry or job, and it may pay off one day, it clearly did for me, and I am now living the dream job. Never doubt yourself, experiment and always be nice. You’ll get there in the end if you go the extra mile and love what you do.
About the expert
Jarrad developed a fascination for garbage trucks when he was just two years old. Instead of socialising with other children, he’d find comfort in playing with his toy trucks and exploring everything there was to know about the real vehicles – from tech and functionality, to the history of Australia’s waste management system. At 10 years old he launched a YouTube channel, JT Garbo, that houses more than 600 videos today with a total of 500,000 views.
Image description: Two people in high-vis yellow shirts, and navy paints standing with their arms around each other and smiling in front of a bright blue CLEANAWAY truck.