How businesses can Flourish by hiring people with disability

Fay Jackson, General Manager, Inclusion at Flourish Australia

“There’s an old Japanese proverb and something they have done there for centuries. They take vases and ceramics that have been smashed into pieces, and put them back together with gold so it becomes more beautiful, showing its cracks and imperfections. This is our philosophy,” says Fay Jackson, General Manager, Inclusion at Flourish Australia.

Flourish Australia provide help for people with lived experience, offering a range of services for people with mental health issues. From help with housing to employment.

Fay has been an activist and advocate for mental health for 20 years, after she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

“I used to be an artist - that’s what I thought I was born to do. When I was diagnosed with my mental health issue I was put on lithium, which caused tremors in my hands. I lost my fine motor skills, I lost my art,” she says.

“After that, I asked what else can I bring that’s beautiful?”

“My job gives me meaning, it gives me a purpose, and it means I have something to keep me going. It keeps me well,” says Fay.

Flourish advocates for the power hiring people with disability can have – not just for the individuals, but for the organisation itself.

Sometimes hiring people with disability can mean having to be prepared for different circumstances as they arise. Much of the time, this can be planned for by having policies already in place.

For Flourish, employees have access to what is known as a ‘Stay Well Plan’. These plans are personal and tailored to the employee, their manager and any relevant medical professionals, so that in the event of a mental health issue the plan can be followed together.

Fay has called upon her own plan, and recalls feeling comfortable enough to acknowledge what was happening and action the plan with her support people. The support she received included talking through what she needed, and on a practical level having a colleague review emails before they were sent to external stakeholders.

One of Fay’s nominated support people is Flourish Australia’s CEO, Mark Orr. For him, having people like Fay who have a lived experience is of great benefit for Flourish’s clients.

“Fay offers great hope to people who access our services and other employees with lived experience.”

For Mark and Flourish, JobAccess provides a great touch point when speaking to other employers about hiring people with disability.

“We’re talking to employers and potential employers about JobAccess all the time, and how they might be able to learn about how they might need to tweak some of their internal policies and procedures to make them more accessible to people with disability,” says Mark.

With the new Employer Toolkit available on JobAccess, employers have more tools at their disposal than ever. From creating policies, to designing and advertising positions, to making physical adjustments – everything you need to know is at your fingertips.

For Fay, organisations that aren’t hiring people with disability are quite simply missing out.

“We are a value add. We’re often creative thinkers – we can often see different ways of solving problems,” she says.

“I believe every human has a role to play. We’re all here to do something with our lives. Workplaces are missing out on the value that we can bring.”

For businesses looking to see that value for themselves – there is no better place to get started than the JobAccess website for employers.

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