Everyone wins through the disability employment tourism pilot

19 June 2024

Photo of Callan standing in the Bay Pavilions Theatre
Photo of Callan standing in the Bay Pavilions Theatre

Are you part of the tourism industry? Have you thought about employing people with disability but haven’t quite got over the line yet? Well now is the time.

Lachlan Knight from Bay Pavilions, an arts and leisure centre in Batemans Bay on the NSW South Coast, employed a staff member with disability after accessing the Australian Government’s Tourism Local Navigator Pilot and hasn’t looked back.

The Australian Government community-based pilot is helping connect employers in the tourism industry with people with disability looking for work.

“Bay Pavilions currently employs 6 people with disability, which is really good,” Lachlan says.

“One of our employees is Callan, who has vision impairment and lives with albinism.” (Albinism is an inherited condition that leads to someone having very light skin, hair and eyes.)

Callan is employed in the Bay Pavilions theatre as a Front of House attendant. The venue holds a range of shows and events, including comedy, music, drama, school events, dance events, round table conferences and school formals.

“He works as an usher,” Lachlan says. “So he’ll greet people at the doors, check their tickets and take them to their seats.

“A rewarding part of this role for him is he’s able to help other people with disability.”

The Pilot is designed to help small or medium-sized enterprises in the tourism industry break down barriers to recruiting, retaining and promoting employees with disability.

There are 12 local navigators across regional locations who support businesses to employ people with disability by providing information and tools. Local navigators can help connect employers to the Disability Employment Services Program and JobAccess for further information and support.

With Bay Pavilions being a larger employer in the area (with over 100 staff) and a popular tourist spot, Lachlan says he didn’t hesitate when Isabelle—the local navigator in the region—reached out to him about the Pilot.

“We’ve had experience with staff with disability and the aids and support they need sometimes. While we try and do our best, the extra information and resources this Pilot has pointed us to have been very beneficial,” Lachlan says.

These resources include things like working with a disability support provider, free online training courses, and workplace modifications for the staff member with disability.

“We are in the process of getting workplace modifications for Callan, which we learned about as part of the Pilot,” Lachlan says.

“The help we’ve received through the Pilot has made those workplace adjustments easier to do.”

For example, when Lachlan realised Callan was struggling to read the theatre tickets because of the small printing on them, he asked Callan how they could support him.

“We’re looking into whether we could make the print a little bit bigger on the tickets.”

“We’re also looking into getting a magnifying glass with a light on it.”

Callan’s response? “I’ll look pretty cool with that!”

Lachlan says he would ‘absolutely’ recommend the Pilot to other businesses.

“Team morale has increased, as well as connection within the team, because it’s started conversations,” Lachlan says.

“It’s encouraged staff to open up a bit, and it’s opened people’s eyes to what it is like for someone with disability and the barriers that they face.

“As a large community facility, the community itself has loved being involved as well.”

Lachlan acknowledges there can be challenges when employing people with disability.

“There’s definitely some adaptations that might need to be made,” he says. “However, it’s a lot easier to do it with this Pilot than with no help at all.”

Bay Pavilions is looking to the future and employing more people with disability.

The Pilot began in July 2023 and runs until 30 June 2024. Jobseekers with disability and employers can continue to get support through JobAccess (www.jobaccess.gov.au), their local Disability Employment Services provider, Employment Facilitator or NDIS provider.

Employing people with disability brings a variety of benefits to your workplace:

  • Employees with disability have higher retention rates and fewer occupational health and safety incidents.
  • People with disability offer a diverse range of skills, talents and qualifications, leading to innovation and fresh ideas.
  • You can improve company culture and overall morale—in fact, 83% of millennials are actively engaged at work when they feel their organisation fosters an inclusive culture.
  • You can offer better support for customers and the community by reflecting the world we live in, providing enhanced services and solutions to customer needs.

Contact DEP@dss.gov.au for more information and to be put in touch with your local navigator.


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