JobAccess webinar highlights benefits of disability employment for regional businesses and SMEs

24 May 2024


A man and woman are having a conversation over coffee, while seated outdoors.

Image: A man and woman are having a conversation over coffee, while seated outdoors.

JobAccess held its 35th Employer seminar online for regional businesses and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) on 15 May 2024 to discuss the benefits of disability employment.

The webinar, “Disability Employment: a win-win for regional businesses, SMEs and local communities”, offered information on practical advice and free support available for employers to confidently attract, employ and retain people with disability and broaden their talent pool.

The event drew over 100 employers representing a wide range of industries across metro, regional and remote Australia. Regional employers and SMEs across the country are facing challenges with hiring talent, primarily owing to skills shortages and low unemployment rates.

In his keynote address, Dr Dinesh Palipana OAM, highlighted, “In our world today, in our community, we need to empower people to live their ‘why’. And when we are talking about regional areas, we talk about places where we need it the most, that's where it really counts. So not only does the person win, but the workforce and the workplace wins as well.”

JobAccess General Manager Daniel Valiente-Riedl stressed on the importance of disability inclusion for regional businesses and SMEs, who represent over 40 per cent of the country’s private sector workforce.

He said, “Over recent years, skills shortages have been a challenge for businesses, especially for regional employers and SMEs. However, there is an opportunity for employers to gain a competitive edge by hiring people with disability in their workforce.”

“The good news is JobAccess is here to help. It offers holistic and tailored support to employers, helping them make their workplaces accessible and disability inclusive. In doing so, employers can broaden their talent pool and draw long-term benefits, such as improved brand reputation, customer relationships, employee retention, and higher staff morale,” Daniel added.

Stephanie Burzacott, Talent Acquisition Specialist at Central Highlands Water in regional Victoria, Dr Max Bergmann, Founder of Drome Dairy Body + Skin in regional Western Australia and Erin Mills, Speech Pathologist Team Lead at Landing Spot, based in regional Queensland, shared their stories and experiences as part of the panel discussion.

Stephanie emphasised that employers should provide awareness to their staff and line leaders to remove barriers to disability employment.

“We have recently conducted disability-confident awareness training for our line leaders with JobAccess, which was well received. The trainings helped us in upskilling our team members and line leaders, to become more confident when talking to people with disability. It also provided us an understanding that, a small change could make the world of difference for an individual.” she said.

Dr Max spoke about taking a solutions-oriented approach when it comes assessing people with disability for vacancies. He shared, “Employers need to have a mindset to say, ‘Hey, people with disability overcome obstacles daily. They will be able to add to the workforce because they overcome daily issues, so they are really good at problem-solving.’

Highlighting the importance of having an open conversation about disability in the workplace, Erin said, “Have an open dialogue about disability so it makes it comfortable for others to share their stories and access needs. Having it as a normal part of the discussion creates a lot of safety and we become close as a team. Because we know how to support each other in the best way. It makes the team better and our services better for clients too.”

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