Working to Break Down Barriers

Working to Break Down Barriers

The rates of unemployment for people with disability are twice that of the general population, but there is a movement taking place to turn this around and we’re on board! Josh and Ryan are from our employment team at Inclusion WA – they give us an update.

Last week Dylan Alcott launched Remove the Barrier; a campaign aimed at increasing employment rates for people with disability. Finding and keeping a job has long been a struggle for many due in large part to unconscious bias faced by people with disability. It impacts a person’s likelihood of success at every stage – from recruitment into the workplace. The result is a whole section of society whose skills and resources are largely untapped.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) has identified the target of raising employment rates for people with disability to 32% by 2022 (it’s currently 22%). Supporting people to gain meaningful employment has been high on our agenda for a while at Inclusion WA, but we’re turning things up a notch now.

Josh Rowdon, Coordinator in our North hub and one of the driving forces behind our work in the employment space, gives us an update;

“We’ve launched a customised employment service that is outcome-focused and works one-on-one with people uncovering their individual skills, talents and interests, and leveraging these to build a career.”

The NDIS is designed to provide a “constellation of supports for participants”; a network to utilise in finding employment, says Dr Ken Baker, National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) Strategic Policy Advisor.

“We are mirroring this in our service design”, says Josh.

“We’ve identified a number of Mentors whose focus and work capacity will be based around employment. They’re building an internal network of business and employment knowledge, and networking with employers to find opportunities for people with disability.”

Ryan Randolph is our first Senior Mentor whose sole focus is on employment. His role is about; supporting people one-on-one with employment goals, peer-mentoring staff around the employment discovery process, hosting workshops on customised employment and networking with employers.

“Finding employment opportunities is all about advocacy at a grass-roots level”, says Josh.

Ryan explains this type of advocacy is an important part of his new role, getting in there talking to businesses and building relationships out in the community - “It’s about having conversations with people who are open-minded and have similar goals around inclusion”.

One such discussion happened recently with the person responsible for diversity at Watercorp, says Ryan;

“At medium-large organisations there is usually someone responsible for diversity and inclusion, they’re the person to speak to”.

Josh is set to present to a team at Hayes Recruitment next month for a similar conversation about employing people with disability. He recently partnered with Inclusion Solutions to present to about 30 local government representatives tasked with increasing their disability employment rates. Last month he attended the NDS Disability at Work Summit in Adelaide and says there is a big emphasis sector-wide on customised employment approaches.

There are positive changes being made within the NDIS – “providing employment opportunities to individuals who do not meet the Disability Employment Services (DES) 8-hour minimum work requirements, or who want to explore employment options outside their current Australian Disability Enterprise (ADE)”, says Josh.

“It allows new market providers to consider hiring, such as small businesses who might have a position to offer someone for a couple of hours per week”.

This can make a big difference to a person and is a foot-in-the-door to open employment.

Ryan explains why he’s so passionate about this work; “Employment can play a big part of a person’s valued role in the community”, he said.

“There are plenty of ways to find valued roles other than paid employment, but not having a valued role has flow-on effects on a person’s self-concept and mental health”.

There is a lot happening and we’re not slowing down any time soon – gaining employment is hugely impactful and has the potential to change the trajectory of a person’s life for the better. Watch this space to stay updated on what we’re doing to break down the barriers.

“Everyone has the right to have choice and control over their lives, and the opportunity to explore the open job market just as anyone else would”. – Josh

Thank you to Joshua Rowdon and Ryan Randolph for contributing to this article.

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