JobAccess holds first-ever disability employment webinar for Northern Territory employers

2 June 2022

JobAccess hosted its inaugural disability employment event for Northern Territory employers in March 2022.

Co-hosted with Litchfield Council, the Driving Disability Employment: the benefits of an inclusive and accessible workplace webinar attracted more than 200 employers from the Northern Territory (NT) and Queensland.

NT providing employment opportunities for people with disability

The Hon Kate Worden, Northern Territory Minister for Territory Families, Urban Housing, Disabilities, Sport, and Multicultural Affairs, discussed highlights of the Territory’s new Disability Strategy – a first for the region.

“Our strategy, which will guide the Territory into the future, is the first-ever approach to development and delivery of services, policy, and programs for people with disability,” the Minister said.

“The strategy will show how we can meet our vision that Territorians of all abilities can live their life to the fullest, and have access to quality services, no matter where they live across the Northern Territory.”

An open mind about disability can lead to better employment outcomes

In his keynote address, Paralympian and disability advocate Shaun Pianta, spoke of life, work and success after a virus attacked his optic nerve, leading to major vision loss, at the age of 19.

“One of the toughest things I've ever had to go through, was not knowing how I would find a job or return to my trade. I just felt like I had a ton of bricks on top me and there was nowhere to go,” he said.

Shaun encouraged employers to have an open mind and be adaptive when it comes to providing employment opportunities for people with disability.

“People with disability don't want a handout because of their disability. When they apply for a job, (it’s important) that people consider them with an open mind, think about how jobs can be performed, and how jobs can be adapted in different ways.

“People with disability are the best at adapting, finding new and creative ways to achieve new outcomes, that's what we do every day in our lives,” said Shaun. 

Employ a productive and reliable talent pool

The event was a chance to hear from inclusive businesses and experts on practical, effective strategies, and the free supports available for organisations to recruit, retain, and support employment of people with disability, said JobAccess General Manager Daniel Valiente-Riedl, who hosted the event.

“Employers can draw from a larger pool of candidates with disability for their vacancies. In doing so, not only will they employ people who are productive, safe, and reliable, but can also draw the long-term benefits of higher retention and cost-savings,” he said.

An untapped resource to counter skills shortage

Litchfield Council CEO Daniel Fletcher discussed the council’s commitment to inclusion and said the event was a boost both for local business and jobseekers with disability.

“Finding the right person takes time and costs money, especially when recruiting from a limited talent pool. This makes perfect sense, particularly at a time when workforces have been severely impacted by COVID.

“We know that people do their best work when treated with respect, dignity and fairness. Including people with disabilities in everyday activities represents an inclusive culture.

“This involves more than simply acknowledging people. We are helping people to succeed within that framework, and our people make Litchfield Council successful,” he said.

Engaging people is key

Danny Milincic, Litchfield Council’s  People and Performance Manager told the forum that almost all jobs can be performed by people living with disability, providing the environmental considerations are taken into account.

“Sometimes reasonable adjustments can be made, whether in the physical space or information communication space. Clearly, the talent pool is out there,” he said.

Matt Gowan, Senior Client Engagement Director at Hays Specialist Recruitment and Chairperson of the organisation’s ANZ Equality, Diversity and Inclusion committee, spoke about the impact of supporting disability employment on internal staff engagement.

“We surveyed our staff to get a sense of the profile of people with disability. We've been able to use that information to engage with the entire company, including people with disability, about disability. I think the wonderful thing about that is that we have been able to increase the level of support that people with disability feel,” he said.

Understand what needs to be done in a role

Claudia Stevenson, Professional Adviser with JobAccess, who has low vision, said people with disability know themselves and their capabilities.

“We are problem solvers. Work together with them to brainstorm solutions. I think it's really important to understand the inherent requirements because then that gives you a clear framework on which to work upon,” she said.

Luke Davis, Customer Service Officer at Litchfield Council, spoke about raising his disability, Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) at work.

“A lot of people think that adult ADHD is just a fake diagnosis. But neuroscience has proven it is real.

“The fact that they (Litchfield Council) are being supportive and understanding that it is a real cognitive disability, gives me the confidence to rock up to work every day, and be the best that I can.”

Luke encouraged other employers to “be patient with us”.  “We think differently. Just try to let us be the best that we can.”

Larger employers can enter into a free 12-month partnership with the National Disability Recruitment Coordinator (NDRC) – the employer engagement service of JobAccess, and work with a dedicated Professional Adviser to receive personalised, one-on-one support to develop workplace policies and practices that accommodate people with disability. Call a JobAccess Adviser on 1800 464 800 to be connected with the NDRC.

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