Why one workplace adjustment can have benefits for many

Neslihan Sari

Meet Neslihan Sari, Paralegal at Public Transport Victoria

For Neslihan Sari, Paralegal at Public Transport Victoria (PTV), employing people with disability has far reaching benefits.

“It’s good for the economy, it helps society, and it benefits individuals and their families,” says Neslihan, who has congenital glaucoma from birth.

Before Neslihan first started at PTV, her new colleagues were taken through a training session with Vision Australia around how to work with a colleague with a vision impairment.

“They brought everyone together for a team meeting, and just gave an overview that really, working with a blind person is just like working with anyone else. They told everyone what to look out for, what language to use – it was really about making everyone feel more confident,” she says.

Workplace training and assessments are available through the Employment Assistance Fund (EAF), which aims to help employers to buy work related modifications for employees with disability.

Once she started, a workplace assessor was organised as part of the EAF application, to help find out what Neslihan would need to effectively do her work.

“The process with JobAccess was really straightforward – and to be honest, I’m surprised about how quickly everything was approved and got started,” she says.

“Someone from Vision Australia came in and spoke about the kind of work I do, and then provided a range of options. I had time to ask about what the best equipment was and got to trial everything before I committed.”

“I was even able to swap a piece of equipment that wasn’t quite right for me. I wasn’t happy with it, so JobAccess was willing to swap it with something that suited me better right away,” says Neslihan.

As a paralegal, Neslihan looks after contracts, deeds, conflict of interest and offers of gift issues, and manages the Legal Services Panel.

For Neslihan’s manager George Karaisaridis, having a person with disability on the team hasn’t meant a change in his management style.

“We really try to treat everyone the same, and make employment as easy as possible for everyone. We’re always looking for opportunities to make work accessible and fair for all the team,” says George.

“I can give Neslihan the same work I do anyone else – she’s as capable as anyone in the team,” he says.

Importantly, PTV’s disability action plan isn’t just about individuals – it’s a whole of organisation approach.

“For example, when we updated the intranet one of the big focuses was on accessibility by making sure that all the documents are in an accessible format. As an organisation we’re always moving forward in that space, and keeping accessibility at the forefront,” says George.

“If we address an accessibility issue for one person, anyone else with that same issue will benefit too. It means we end up with better, more accessible design,” he says.

Neslihan echoes the sentiment, saying that the adjustments aren’t just for the individual – it’s for the whole company.

“Say you have a ramp – that’s not just for one person, it’s for everyone who enters that building,” says Neslihan.

“If you understand the community you’re in, there’s a huge market of people that are available once you open your product or service up to them,” she says.

1 in 5 Australians live with a disability – representing a vast, untapped pool of talent. For large organisations, the National Disability Recruitment Coordinator is available to find the right match for you.

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