Giving disability employment the voice it deserves

Ahmed Rezaei, Administrative Support Assistant, The University of Queensland

Ahmed Rezaei, Administrative Support Assistant, The University of Queensland

Ahmed Rezaei has been working at The University of Queensland (UQ) since November of last year for the Research Facilities and Infrastructure Planning department.

A day in the office for Ahmed includes anything from calendar coordination to event management, two different tasks that he enjoys as they keep his working day interesting and challenging.

“I enjoy the fact that my time at work is not structured or repetitive. It gives me the chance to develop a range of different skills and see where my interests truly lie,” says Ahmed.

Ahmed was born with optic nerve atrophy, and now at the age of 24 is legally blind in both eyes. The University of Queensland is supportive of Ahmed’s disability, providing adaptive technology equipment within an inclusive and diverse working environment.

“While my sight has limited me in a lot of ways, I have also learnt how to overcome these limitations,” he explains.

Jordan Akhurst, Senior Manager of Workplace Diversity and Inclusion at UQ, says that they encourage all of their employees to rely on resources from JobAccess, the Australian Government’s national hub for disability employment information and advice.

“In my experience one of the biggest barriers that the workplace faces in terms of disability employment is a lack of understanding, which is often based on incorrect assumptions and myths that are bought into,” she explains.

“We need to use the tools at our disposal to increase education and awareness of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Together we can beat the systemic and structural barriers that have created the stigma surrounding disability employment,” Jordan finishes.

There are also a range of benefits for companies that hire people with disability, and Jordan believes that it simply makes good business sense.

“Diverse teams are better teams. When people feel like they can bring their whole self to work, levels of productivity and creativity are higher, leading to better performance and an improved bottom line.

“For me personally I think it brings a real richness to the workplace, and it makes our days so much more interesting. We are challenged in a positive way, while everyone enjoys working in a place where they feel included, respected and valued,” finishes Jordan.

For further insight on the benefits of employing people with disability, head to JobAccess, where you can also learn more about how the Employment Assistance Fund can be used for workplace adjustments and equipment.

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