For more than 40 years, Dean Raymond has been a proud member of the Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust (SMCT) Horticulture team. His commitment to excellence in his work, and his affability, have made him a popular – and fast – brush cutter, as well as SMCT’s longest-standing team member who continues to work at Springvale Botanical Cemetery.
At SMCT, diversity and inclusion are the cornerstones of our organisation and community. It also reflects the collective experiences and backgrounds of our team members. As part of Inclusion@Work week, we are spotlighting Dean’s contribution over the past four decades and our commitment to supporting the diverse needs of our workplace.
Dean began his career over 41 years ago at the age of 15 with the former Springvale Necropolis. It was part of a work experience opportunity initiated by his teacher at Vermont South Special School. And neither he nor SMCT – or the various Trusts that came before it – have ever looked back.
Dean was offered training in several areas, but his brush cutting skills earned him the nickname ‘Speedy', highlighting not just his work efficiency, but also the evolution of technology that has made these tasks lighter and faster - reducing the amount of manual labour required to care for our extensive grounds.
“There were a lot more gardeners back then, close to 180 gardeners and about five crews of brush cutting teams. Compared to when I started, we have fewer gardeners now, and a smaller team,” says Dean.
During his tenure, Dean has seen Springvale Botanical Cemetery grow and become more environmentally sustainable. Over the years, the size, appearance and plant species found in the grounds have evolved, along with the techniques and tools to manage them. However, a gardener's work is never done, and Dean’s skills are still in high demand.
Making work work for everyone
His time at SMCT has not always been a smooth garden path. Dean has navigated personal challenges – notably managing epilepsy, a lifelong genetic condition.
“I started having epileptic seizures when I was a kid and I've never grown out of them,” says Dean.
Having a team member present during his work shifts was important for Dean to have confidence and independence to work safely, given his history of having epileptic seizures.
SMCT values the diverse backgrounds and experiences of its team members and is committed to supporting them to thrive in the workplace.