Charity Feros Care says a new initiative to help people with a disability find meaningful employment is an important step in building an inclusive and empowered workforce.
According to a report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 93 per cent of unemployed working-age people with a disability have trouble finding employment.
This is despite a massive skills shortage in Australia and businesses crying out for workers.
Following the recent Jobs and Skills Summit, the Federal Government announced a $3.3 million Disability Employment Initiative pilot, aimed at increasing employment and improving career pathways of people with disability.
Jo Field is Feros Care's Executive Manager of Disability and Community Development. She believes the pilot will make a real difference to the lives of people living with disabilities and strengthen Australia's workforce.
"The National Disability Insurance Agency has outlined its commitment to having 30 per cent of people with a disability in meaningful employment by 2023," she said.
"There are so many benefits for an employer and an organisation - an improved culture of problem solving, better collaboration, improved reliability, less staff turnover and better attendance at work. That's on top of the huge social benefits.
"Feros Care has a strong disability employment strategy. We believe you need to be able to bring your entire self to work. There are so many different parts that make up a person and it contributes to the richness of our teams.
"We are finally seeing changes in this space, and I feel very proud to be working at Feros Care. It's fantastic to see the impact daily."
Chanelle Morris has experienced the benefits of Feros' disability employment strategy first-hand.
She has a rare type of vision impairment - her right eye only sees about 12 per cent, so is legally blind, and her left eye sees about 50 per cent vision.
It wasn't easy for her to find a suitable job. Chanelle has difficulty reading computers, recognising colleagues, seeing screens at meetings and navigating around the kitchen. She also develops a sore back due to her posture at the desk.
But Chanelle's career is well and truly on track thanks to the supportive environment at Feros Care.
"I had an interview and got a job as a HR assistant in April. And then last month I was moved into a new role as an executive assistant to Jo Field, the Executive Manager of Disability and Community Development. It's been awesome," she said.
"The culture and people I work with have all offered their emotional support and physical support."
Chanelle is also the chair of the peer and carer support network group for people identifying with disability at Feros Care. Their main goal is to come together to share experiences and learn from others.
"My vision is to ensure everyone feels supported and connected. It is very important to me to provide a space where people feel they belong and can freely disclose information," Chanelle said.
"I want this group to bring a sense of identity and belonging to individuals to feel included and valued. Another goal of the group is to improve the diversity and inclusion aspect of Feros Care as an organisation to increase staff success and positivity and client satisfaction."
Chanelle's tips: How employers can support staff with disabilities
Do not assume someone with a disability is not capable, or might feel or act the same as others with the same diagnosis. Everyone is different and we all experience the world differently.
Have an open and honest conversation about their individual needs, such as any equipment.
Educate other colleagues and team members around disability. The work culture is a large influence in staff satisfaction and there is nothing worse than feeling distant and excluded from colleagues in the workplace.
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