Pulling back the Curtin on the benefits of disability employment
Associate Lecturer, Centre for Aboriginal Studies, Curtin University
Carol Dowling is an Associate Lecturer at Curtin University who specialises in Aboriginal studies. She is passionate about teaching indigenous culture and history, and following the recent completion of her PHD she also does off-site field work.
But, mobility is not always simple for Carol. Due to severe osteoarthritis in both of her knees, which is slowly spreading to her hip, walking even short distances can be difficult. With the Curtin campus stretching 116 hectares, Carol uses an electric scooter to get around.
Curtin has planned her pathways around the campus to ensure that she can enter via their automated doors. Some buildings, such as Carol’s office, have been installed with these doors especially for ease of entry.
“Having a disability can mean dealing with additional stress when it comes to getting myself around, but the university is constantly adapting to cater to my needs,” says Carol.
When the university does need adjustments, they often use JobAccess and the Employment Assistance Fund, which give financial help to people with disability and their employers to make work-related modifications. The Employment Assistance Fund even provides free workplace assessments for businesses that employ people with disability to help decide what kind of modifications are most suited.
For Carol, the increased accessibility has been hugely important.
“I even do the lunch run every now and again - but not too often, I don’t want people getting used to it!” Carol laughs.
The Disability Access and Inclusion Co-ordinator for Curtin, Erica Schurman, has always been a huge advocate for the integration of people living with disability into all aspects of society.
“One’s job is such a fundamental aspect of their character, and it is so important that we make this accessible to everyone, with open-minded and accepting attitudes towards diversity.
“By the same token, having a person living with disability on the team really brings a fresh perspective to the workplace, and people have the opportunity to see things from a different point of view,” says Erica.
“A big part of my role at Curtin is catering to the needs of staff living with disability, be it through determining reasonable adjustments, workplace flexibility arrangements or equipment and building modifications. JobAccess has been an instrumental tool for attracting and retaining staff, while helping them to flourish and succeed in their jobs,” she finishes.
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.