Meet an Angel – Jen Stuart.

Jen Stuart founded a program called the Abilities Plus Program in 2000 and has won numerous awards for the work she does including 2015 Gold Coast Volunteer of the Year, an Australian of the Year nomination in 2015 and a Small Employer of the Year finalist at the 2016 Queensland Training Awards. Read on and discover how one amazing lady said to me “my purpose in life is helping others” and went on to show me.


Jen created the Abilities Plus Program to give back to people and help change their lives. Having a tough childhood herself gave her the motivation and drive to help others find the road to recovery. That alone is inspiring and then Jen laughs and says, “I’m turning 72 very soon”. Motivated by her own life experience Jen helps others live the best life they can, she said she has only taken 1 day off in 30 years and that was to be a guest speaker!! Everything she does is practical in nature, from turning dirt into soil, to producing culinary herbs, fruits and salad vegetables to provide 2 boxes of organic food to donate to Rosies to help feed the homeless. In addition to this, support is provided to the domestic violence community and assists with gardening to the properties at no charge. Everything you see with Jen’s Nursery is holistic in its approach in giving back to others.

There is no power on the site and Jen with her team of trainees have turned a baron hillside into a productive garden.


Traineeships provide up to 10 Jobs


The Abilities Plus Program Jen runs is a traineeship. She supports up to 10 participants at a time and they are all paid above award traineeship wages. The training is focused on creating organic food through gardening. Offered as a 6-month program called the Certificate II in Land Management Conservation and Ecosystem Traineeship.


Mandi from TURSA was with me along with Katie and you could feel the emotion when they talked about Jen. She not only impacts the participants lives but the TURSA team as well. Mandi said “This woman is an angel put on this earth to change people’s lives, she is just incredible”.

Jen’s nursery has just relocated to Nerang 5 weeks ago from Mermaid after losing access to a site they had managed for a number of years(see previous challenges faced). Jen has quickly turned the hillside into a flourishing garden with the help from her trainees.

Bronwyn & Katie

“Bronwyn Met an Angel.  I’m Healing, Katie”

Katie from TURSA has two participants in the program. One of those participants Bronwyn had been struggling to gain employment and was managing some mental health and life hurdles as a result. Katie said “I had always seen in Bronwyn that there was so much good to give, this opportunity has been amazing for her, I have seen her blossom”. Bronwyn said to Katie “Jen has changed my life in 4 days, I’m healing Katie”.


Bronwyn loves working with other people and has a deep and amazing background working in the aboriginal community. This opportunity has allowed Bronwyn to become Bronwyn once again.


Fabio met an Angel “It’s good for my soul”

Fabrizio (Fabio) has been with TURSA for a while and was in Jobactive previously. He had worked at Currumbin Sanctuary and really loved that work experience. Fabio manages a few disabilities, and when the opportunity arose to work with Jen, Fabio jumped at the chance. He is so happy and doing something he loves. It has also given him some money that was desperately needed. Fabio loves being outdoors and working in the garden. Fabio said, “it’s good for my soul”.   

Without a licence, it was hard to find a role that Fabio could access from home. This location has been perfect, with a bus line right nearby, making it a simple process to get to work.

Jen is one of a number of amazing businesses that understand the importance of providing a calm supportive and structured approach, to provide a runway back to employment.   If you are seeking support getting back into employment, please take a moment and contact us.  We are here for you!


Fabio with Jen from Jen's nursery photo