JobAccess’ national webinar highlights importance of workplace adjustments to bridge disability employment gap

12 January 2024

Two women are looking at a laptop screen in an office
Image: two women are looking at a laptop screen in an office.

JobAccess held a national webinar for employers on improving access and inclusion through workplace adjustments to mark the International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD) in December 2023.

The webinar, “Workplace adjustments: What they are, how to make them, and support you can count on”, provided information and advice to employers on making workplace adjustments and how JobAccess can support them.

The webinar attracted over 300 cross-sector industry representatives from around Australia, including several JobAccess alumni partners.

Workplace adjustments benefit everyone

Speaking about the importance of workplace adjustments, JobAccess General Manager, Daniel Valiente-Riedl, opened the session with insights from JobAccess’ recent national survey.

“Workplace adjustments are an effective tool that enable people with disability to have equitable employment opportunities and work effectively. Yet, 60 per cent of Australians lack awareness about adjustments, which presents a notable challenge,” he said.

“This lack of awareness means that Australian employers are missing out on a significant opportunity to expand their workforce by hiring people with disability.”

JobAccess Manager for Advisory and Workplace Adjustments, Georgia Miller added, “The good news is that JobAccess is here to help and support employers to make their workplaces accessible and inclusive, so they can attract, employ and sustain a broader talent pool.”

Georgia discussed the financial assistance that is available to employers and people with disability through the Australian Government's Employment Assistance Fund (EAF) for a range of disability-specific adjustments in the workplace.

Disability representation on screen and the role of workplace adjustments

left to right profile images of Hannah Diviney, Andrew McInally and Zachary Nielsen
Image: (left to right) profile images of Hannah Diviney, Andrew McInally and Zachary Nielsen

Disability rights advocate, writer, actor and IDPwD 2023 Ambassador, Hannah Diviney, first Assistant Director of the upcoming movie 'Audrey', Andrew McInally, and Ascend Health CEO Zachary Nielsen joined the webinar as special guests.

They shared their experiences, challenges and opportunities with organising adjustments during the making of ‘Audrey’, that paved the way for Hannah to be cast as the lead in the movie.

Hannah highlighted the importance of workplace adjustments and how it could be a real game-changer for the industry. “Making workplace adjustments can open a world of ‘limitless’ possibilities for actors with disability.”

Speaking about her experience, Hannah added, “When the production of ‘Audrey’ started, the crew had no idea about organising adjustments. It took a lot of time and research.”

“JobAccess’ support made it simple and less complicated. The wheelchair-accessible caravan, space for hair and makeup and access to a modified set was extremely helpful.”

The need of the hour is to put more focus on support and funding for adjustments that will help to make disability representation on screen a reality.

– Hannah Diviney

Andrew emphasised that funding and lack of awareness within the screen industry is a big challenge.

“Casting Hannah gave us experience about the support and funding available workplace adjustments, which we were not aware of earlier.”

“The experience we got with ‘Audrey’ is extremely helpful and we would love to take that to our next project. Especially with budget, production logistics, scheduling, and shooting. It will help us save both time and money in future.” Andrew added.

Zach said that empathy-based training and theory-based workshops will help in fostering a more inclusive and understanding environment on movie sets.

“Practical experiences will help support workers and skilled therapists with an understanding of the challenges that actors with disability or support staff face while shooting for a movie.”

“This strategy would empower other film crew, actors, etc. to consider the needs of disabled actors on a movie set based on their own personal experiences.”

Removing barriers to sustainable employment

Discussing the supports provided by JobAccess, Georgia said, “JobAccess collaborates with employers and provides them with tailored solutions and expert advice to create workplaces that are inclusive and accessible and where everyone feel welcomed.”

Daniel concluded the session with his message for employers. “JobAccess supports long-term sustainable employment for people with disability. When in doubt, give us a call and we will work together with you to develop policies and practices that inclusively support people with disability at work.”

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Employers and Disability Employment Services (DES) providers can register to receive latest industry updates and invitations to future JobAccess events. Visit the JobAccess website to register.

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