Making a difference: Central Highlands Water doubles disability representation through JobAccess partnership

Central Highlands Water (CHW) employees are in orange hi-vis jackets, working in office. One of the employees is smiling and looking at the camera.

Central Highlands Water (CHW) is a regional water corporation. It provides drinking water, wastewater, trade waste, and recycled water services. CHW serves over 184,000 residents in the Central Highlands region of Victoria.

The organisation signed up to partner with the National Disability Recruitment Coordinator (NDRC). The NDRC is JobAccess' employer engagement service. It partners with organisations to improve their disability knowledge and confidence. The aim is to create a disability-inclusive workplace. This involves removing barriers from current processes and policies by advising on good practice. NDRC partnerships are for 12 months and are available at no cost to employers.

Commitment to build a culture of inclusion and diversity

CHW wants to build a workforce that reflects the communities it serves. Talent Acquisition Specialist Stephanie Burzacott says their commitment to disability employment is important.

To strengthen this commitment, CHW set a target to have 10 per cent of their workforce be people with disability.

"Boosting our disability confidence was critical. It was a key step to achieving this goal." says Stephanie.

Improving disability confidence through NDRC partnership

Stephanie said that they learnt about the NDRC during a webinar back in 2020.

“It was during the Covid lockdown. I had received an invitation for a JobAccess webinar from a peer in my network. The webinar detailed the NDRC program. It also covered other support that JobAccess provides. They're all aimed at building a disability-confident workplace culture,” Stephanie recalls.

"It (the NDRC partnership) perfectly resonated with our current target. I immediately consulted other peers in my HR network. They had worked with JobAccess before. And highly recommended getting in touch with them (JobAccess and the NDRC).”

After learning about the service, CHW partnered with the NDRC. The goal was to meet its disability employment target.

Stephanie said that CHW wanted to review their full recruitment process. The NDRC did this from a disability lens. The aim was to remove any barriers and make it accessible and inclusive.

“We were also hoping to put in place as many changes as possible. We wanted to upskill our team members and line leaders. It was to help them become more confident and aware when talking to people with disability.”

Confidently doubling disability representation from 4 per cent to 8 per cent

NDRC Professional Adviser Kellie Wheeler worked with Stephanie and the team at CHW.

The first step involved an end-to-end review of the recruitment process. It also included guidance on good practice and policies.

Stephanie recalls that the recruitment review was very extensive and led to significant improvements. For instance, CHW enhanced their website’s accessibility. They also presented information more effectively.

“Additionally, we added details about our flexible working approach. We also added information about workplace adjustments, which is available to current and future employees throughout the entire employment cycle.”

“Through our partnership with JobAccess and the NDRC, we've doubled the number of staff with disability from 4 to 8 per cent. This is phenomenal.”

-  Stephanie Burzacott, Talent Acquisition Specialist

Kellie also delivered disability awareness training for CHW team members and line leaders. The training dispelled myths and shared facts about disability in the workplace. It also gave advice on supports available and good practice. These sessions helped improve confidence to make hiring more inclusive.

“These sessions were fantastic. It's given our business the knowledge to support candidates and employees with disability. Our line leaders now have a greater confidence to support their teams.”

Stephanie shares, “Through our partnership with JobAccess and the NDRC, we've doubled the number of staff with disability from 4 to 8 per cent. This is phenomenal.”

“Also, open and confident communication with our staff with disability has fostered a supportive work environment. And it will help us attract and retain future talent.”

"With support from JobAccess and the NDRC, CHW will build a truly inclusive culture. One that reflects the diversity of our customers and community. It will see us leverage our team’s unique talent, perspective, and experience, and achieve long-term sustainable employment outcomes,” concludes Stephanie.

Are you looking to build a disability-confident workplace? Talk to the experts.

The National Disability Recruitment Coordinator (NDRC) partners with large employers. The team works with employers to develop inclusive workplace policies. They also advise on good practice to support people with disability.

The NDRC also provides a vacancy distribution service to employers – big or small. It offers other services too. These include workplace training and employer seminars on disability awareness.

Call us today on 1800 464 800 to connect with the NDRC. You can also submit an online enquiry form through the JobAccess website.

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