Dinesh Palipana


I'm a junior house officer at the Gold Coast University Hospital.

I love my job.

I don't really think of it as a job, actually.

I just come to the hospital and do something fun.

I think there are some challenges.

I work things through enough to make work natural.

But it's more little annoyances, like reaching a high shelf or trying to grab something that I can't.

My co-workers have been really amazing.

If I have a difficulty doing a procedure or something that I can't do manually, I just ask a colleague, and they've almost been uniformly happy to help.

So, I pretty much exchange coffee and chocolate for rectal exams these days, which works out well.

I had an introduction to Job Access from my employment provider.

I needed a set of electric wheels to get around the hospital.

Having a big electric wheelchair's not really ideal.

So I reached out to Job Access and explored the options, and they were happy to help me out.

Having a wheelchair that's, sort of, able to get into tight spaces, manoeuvrable, was important.

The process is actually really easy. So, Job Access did a lot of the groundwork.

They asked me what I needed.

They had a bit of a walk around with me, explored different things I need.

Job Access promptly helped me out.

They've been open to other things as well, so the conversation's been really easy.

I'm the advisor in diversity and inclusion for the Gold Coast University Hospital.

We're committed to having a diverse and inclusive workforce, and we want to attract and recruit a workforce that better reflects the community we serve.

The benefits are compounded, so we find that not only do the individuals benefit, but the teams are also benefiting as well as the organisation as a whole.

We're finding that our employees are coming to work a lot more happy and engaged, and culturally we're seeing a more positive work space.

We are moving towards a more socially inclusive model, so that we understand that the disability is not with the person who is disabled, but the way that society treats them.

And so we try and make adjustments wherever we can and support our employees with disability so that they can do their roles easier.

I think the biggest thing that you need to know if you have a disability is just don't see any limits in what you're looking for.

It's important to spend your time pursuing a passion.

Think about what job you want to do or what vocation you want to pursue, and then make that fit to what your circumstances are.

And anything's possible.

There are plenty of advocates.

And I think people are happy to be progressive and do what's right.

How to make your workplace accessible with the Employment Assistance Fund

Dr Dinesh Palipana, Doctor at Gold Coast Health.

Every day at work is different for Dr Dinesh Palipana.

When he arrives in the emergency department of Gold Coast University Hospital (the busiest emergency department in Australia) he can never be sure of what kinds of patients he’ll be treating that day. From someone who’s suffered a stroke, to someone who’s critically ill, to a kid who’s broken a bone – it could be just about anything.

“It’s a great job – the variety definitely keeps it interesting,” Dinesh says.

In 2010, while Dinesh was at medical school, he was involved in a car accident that caused a spinal cord injury and quadriplegia. He’s the second person in Australia to graduate as a doctor with quadriplegia.

Dinesh works ten and a half hour shifts each day, in four to eight day runs.

“90% of what any other doctor does, I do myself. Of course it can be challenging, but everyone here has been really supportive whenever I’ve needed it,” says Dinesh.

“Fortunately Gold Coast University Hospital is brand new, which for the most part means my workplace is accessible. There have of course been hurdles – but these aren’t insurmountable.”

For example, Dinesh found that despite its accessibility, navigating the hospital quickly was sometimes challenging. Through JobAccess and the Employment Assistance Fund, an occupational therapist came in to assess Dinesh’s situation and look at his requirements. Then, the hospital received funding for electric wheels for his wheelchair.

“It’s made a huge difference. And the whole process of using JobAccess to get the wheels was painless - it was really quite easy,” says Dinesh. 

Technology has been very important for Dinesh to integrate as seamlessly as possible at work. He has access to an iPad that connects him to the hospital system, voice recognition software and more – for him, working in a digital hospital is invaluable.

“It would definitely be tricky if I didn’t have access to the kinds of technology that I do. But support from services like JobAccess to get equipment - like my electric wheels – has definitely helped,” Dinesh says.

Though finding employment was not as straightforward for Dinesh as any other medical student – he’s glad to have found work at Gold Coast University Hospital .

“I love my job. For me, it doesn’t feel like working,” he says.

Dr Dinesh is a valuable part of his team. Through the Employment Assistance Fund he and the hospital have been able to make sure that potential challenges don’t get in the way of what he loves – his job.

Find out more about how the Employment Assistance Fund can be used for workplace adjustments and equipment.

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