No one left behind: NDRC partnership builds DFES’ disability fitness

A DFES WA staff member is sitting at their workstation and smiling at the camera
Image: A DFES WA staff member is sitting at their workstation and smiling at the camera.

The Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) in Western Australia plays a vital role in safeguarding communities during natural disasters and emergency incidents.

It employs over 1,600 operational and corporate staff members. Additionally, over 27,000 volunteers across Western Australia support DFES in delivering emergency services.

DFES recently completed a 12-month partnership with the National Disability Recruitment Coordinator (NDRC) – the employer engagement service of JobAccess.

“The partnership aimed to increase DFES’ confidence in supporting people with disability in the workplace,” says Lynda Blum, HR Principal Advisor, Change and Capability at DFES.

The partnership raised awareness of potential barriers, provided expert support to address the gaps, and improved DFES’ capability to reach, recruit and retain people with disability.

Increasing confidence to support people with disability

The partnership helped build DFES' disability fitness. As part of the partnership, NDRC Professional Adviser Dheeraj Ramchandani reviewed DFES' recruitment processes and policies to advise on good practice. DFES also updated its branding and careers web page to be more inclusive.

The NDRC facilitated conversations about disability among DFES staff through disability awareness training. The training focused on disability employment basics, including inherent requirements, sharing information about disability, inclusive language and making reasonable adjustments. It helped increase frontline management’s awareness of disability employment rights and responsibilities within the organisation.

DFES also engaged with Disability Employment Services (DES) providers through the partnership to attract and employ candidates with disability. It ran a dedicated DES Employer Information Session in collaboration with the NDRC to connect with local DES providers. The session shared information with providers on how DFES hiring processes work to boost DES candidates' chances of employment success.

Making adjustments to support staff

The NDRC also helped raise awareness about reasonable adjustments and how to make them. The program highlighted the funding available to employers and employees through the Australian Government’s Employment Assistance Fund (EAF).

The EAF provides funding to make reasonable adjustments to support an employee's independence at work. For a DFES employee, this included funding for building modifications, such as installing automatic doors, and putting in place assistive devices, like a height-adjustable workstation.

Lynda adds, “The assistive technology recommended by the independent assessor and funded by JobAccess through the EAF for our staff has helped them carry out their duties more effectively and support their retention within DFES.”

A holistic approach to inclusivity

Following the completion of the partnership, DFES became a JobAccess NDRC Alumni Partner, joining a cohort of Australian organisations committed to disability inclusion.

The NDRC actively promotes DFES vacancies to local DES providers through their networks to attract and employ people with disability. DFES is also looking to add disability awareness training as part of its manager induction.

Lynda acknowledges there is still work to do. “We strive to be a disability confident organisation and build capacity to ensure retention and increase recruitment of people with disability.”

“Quality service has been provided by the NDRC and Dheeraj, who has been great to work with and has provided excellent guidance,” Lynda concludes.

Want to attract and employ people with disability? Get in touch

The National Disability Recruitment Coordinator (NDRC) provides tailored and dedicated support to help recruiters, HR leaders, line managers, and C-suite executives in large organisations gain disability confidence through its 12-month partnership program.

Contact JobAccess on 1800 464 800 to connect with the NDRC or submit an enquiry.

Last updated: