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University graduates with a disability are falling behind in work participation.

 

I read an article recently written by Selina Ross which really resonated with my own battle…

Ross discusses the case of a woman Clair Cenin who graduated from university six years ago and is still struggling to find employment. Clair stated she didn’t expect to secure a job straight away, however she never anticipated it would take her so long to find employment.

Clair’s situation reflects my experience.

I have three university degrees. I was awarded my last degree seven years ago. I currently am working. However, for most of the seven years since I have graduated, I have strived to find employment to no avail. So, my blog this week will discuss the current employment situation for graduates with a disability.

Firstly as a graduate with a disability, I will share my personal experience in finding work.

I first attended uni with the belief that a degree would assist me to enter the labour market. When I finally left the ivory halls of university, I was filled with optimism. I was ready to make a contribution to society. This had been my dream. Unfortunately this dream was short lived. For six months I tried to find employment unsuccessfully. Due to this I decided to return to uni. I enrolled in a career orientated degree.

When I completed my second degree, I continued to study by completing an honours degree, upon advice of lecturers who believed it may secure me a job. After graduation, unfortunately my dream of employment didn’t eventuate. I sent multitudes of job applications without receiving the courtesy of a reply.  I’ve volunteered for years. I always have yearned to be a productive member of society. This desire was my reason to further my education.

It hasn’t been all doom and gloom I have managed to secure some temporary roles. However struggling to find work after graduating is heartbreaking.

My situation reflects many other university graduates with a disability.

Graduating from The University of Newcastle

 

The graduate careers website shows that the rate of graduates with disability who are unemployed and seeking full time work is 23.5%, compared to students without disability at 11.3%. The Australian Network on Disability show that graduates with disability take 56.2 % longer to gain fulltime employment than other graduates. The National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education found that graduates with disability earn less than those without disability.

The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission wrote that many uni graduates with disability embark on a continuous cycle of studying, hoping that the additional qualifications will eventually get them a job.

The question is why are graduates with a disability struggling to find work?

Unfortunately, graduates with a disability face many barriers to finding employment.

One barrier is graduates with disability have reduced opportunities for work experience. A report by an organisation Australians For Disability And Diversity Employment Inc. showed that students with a disability tend to be less prepared for work than other students because they devote their time to studying not work related activities.

When I was at uni I did not have the time or the stamina to work and study at the same time, so I missed out on work experiences. One solution to overcoming this barrier would be for students who are unable to work during the semesters to have some sort of work experience throughout uni breaks.

Read the article here

Claire Cenin graduated six years ago and is still looking for a job

Updated September 10, 2017 11:32:18 For most young people who go to university, the aim is to study, graduate and, with a bit of effort and luck, get a job within a year or two. For Claire Cenin, the six years since she graduated have been a lot more frustrating.

The University of Western Sydney wrote that a barrier to employment for graduates with a disability is that employers may have prejudicial attitudes toward people with disability in the workplace. To overcome this barrier uni career services and Disability Employment Services (DES) have to make employers aware of how valuable graduates with a disability can be. It takes great tenacity to complete a degree and this could be a valuable quality an employer may desire

I strongly believe that the difficulties graduates with disability face can be overcome. However it requires an investment by the government into services that offer adequate assistance.

Most of us graduates with a disability, attended university in the hope of having fruitful careers, it’s time for employers to use our talents.

Shouldn’t we as university graduates be able to reap the rewards of our hard work?

Let’s find a solution.

 

 

 

 

 

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It’s time to include people with a learning disability in the workplace.

This week an article came across my desk about how people with learning disability need increased work opportunities. My blog this week highlights the challenges people with learning disability face in the work place and some possible solutions to these challenges.

The article that captured my interest by Saba Salman illustrates the employment situation in the United Kingdom for people with a learning disability. In the UK, just 5.8% of people with a learning disability are employed compared to 74% of people without a disability.

The employment situation for people with a learning disability in Australia is also quite poor.  Down Syndrome Victoria confirming that in 2015 only 6 per cent of people with a learning disability were employed, and unfortunately these figures haven’t changed much since then.

 

‘You have to give learning disabled people the opportunity to prove themselves’

Anthony Knight fulfilled a childhood dream when he became an arboretum horticulturalist at Kew Gardens. But it took him nine attempts over five years before finally landing the job in November, despite having done work experience and an apprenticeship at the world-renowned botanical gardens in south-west London.

What is a learning disability?

A learning disability is a neurological disorder that affects the brain’s ability to process information. This can impact on a person ability to process information: listening, speaking, reading, writing, reasoning, or mathematical abilities.

In spite of the above figures, people with learning disability make extremely valuable workers.

The Learning Disabilities Association of America wrote that people with learning disability have be known to be creative, persistent, loyal, and good problem-solvers. They can achieve a high degree of success in the workplace when the disability is accommodated. Some successful people who have learning disabilities include Sir Richard Branson and Bill Gates.

As shown above, people with learning disability can be successful when their disability is accommodated. However often it’s not, especially if people don’t disclose their learning disability. A learning disability may be invisible. Due to this people can have a dilemma regarding whether to disclose their disability to employers.

Journalist Eli Epson discussed the anxiety people feel about disclosing their learning disability. When college graduate Tom Reed secured a position he was faced with the anxiety of whether or not to disclose his learning disability. Due to fear of being stigmatized he decided not to disclose. If employees don’t disclose this information, they can’t get the support they may need.

Accommodations can be simple

In an article by Clive Hopkins, he shows a case where an employer took positive steps to accommodate a workers dyslexia. The employee found making bookings challenging, but had strong verbal communication. The employer changed this persons duties to focus on greeting customers.

The University of Western Sydney showed some of the challenges people with a learning disability may face at work. It may take more effort and time for people with a learning disability to read through written materials and process numbers. They sometimes have problems receiving and processing new and a lot of information orally. They can have trouble adapting to changes in processes and duties.

Some solutions to these problems could be to give instructions both in written formats and orally. Workplaces could allow workers to have regular breaks, especially in meetings or group sessions.

Although this may look daunting for employer’s, Disability Employment Services (DES) can help employees and employers overcome these challenges. They can provide support such as mentoring or financial assistance.

My blog piece certainly wasn’t written to provide all the solutions to the employment situation for people with a learning disability. However, what I’ve tried to convey that people with learning disabilities, like all other disabilities can make highly valuable employees.

If employers overlook this, they could be missing out. There can be challenges but these can be overcome.

Let’s start the discussion to include people with learning disability in the workforce.

 

 

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Meet the people behind Untapped!

 

My name is Lauren Hislop and I am a writer for Untapped. I have cerebral palsy and I am qualified in social research and i live in Newcastle. I have a Bachelor of Arts, a Bachelor of Social Science and Bachelor of Social Science Honours, and I am a disability activist.

I always claim my life is a tapestry infused by bright colours. However some people may not view my life in that way due to the fact I have a disability. I had never allowed my disability to be a hindrance.  My disability has never deterred me from achieving my goals. I have achieved my goals due to the support of people who adhered to the notion that people with disabilities must be included in society. This has also assisted me in attaining my dreams.

When I began school I was placed in a unit for children with disabilities. I was an intelligent child, and modest as well. I was aware I was being segregated. I was put into a mainstream school in year four. This can be attributed to my mother’s sheer determination. I also had support from the staff and the wider community. This is when I felt the reality of inclusion. From year four onwards I was fully integrated in main stream school. I was living an ordinary life. My difference was not accentuated. I believe my inclusion into the school system assisted students without disability to embrace diversity.

On my own merit I was accepted into university. I attained three university degrees. My main desire in life was to be a productive member of society. I yearned to find employment. However this proved to be quite a challenge. I am a highly educated woman and the fact that I struggled to find a position, for a long period of time is extremely disheartening. I believe I am a diligent worker and have skills to offer. Unfortunately my attempts to find work were thwarted by externals factors which include discriminatory attitudes held by employers.

Employer’s  have genuine concerns regarding hiring people with disabilities.  These concerns include increased exposure to legal and financial risks. Employers are able to receive support such as wage subsidies when they employ people with disabilities. Some employers have misconceptions that people with disabilities have low rates of productivity. However, evidence contradicts this by demonstrating that people with disabilities are more likely to remain in the same position for a longer period of time than employees without disabilities. It is my aim and the objective of the untapped website to educate employers.

I have had positive work experiences. Some employers saw my potential and I thrived on feeling productive. I felt I was finally able to use my qualifications. I believe that some people feel that people with disabilities are only passive recipients of care. However we can make valued contributions to society.

Disability is only one small aspect of who I am. I am contented with other areas of my life as well. I have quite a rich life. I love reading, going to movies etc. I live with my partner. I enjoy spending time with him, my friends, and family.  However without support, my life would be quite difficult to achieve.

People with disabilities are sometimes perceived as not capable of enjoying life and focus is often on the disability instead of ability. This is a fallacy. I believe that people need to be educated about people with disabilities. We all fear the unknown. People without disabilities need to be exposed to people with disabilities. We can all learn from another and enjoy a rich and diverse society.

 

 

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Disability discrimination occurs on a daily basis in our society, why is it still happening?

As a person with a disability I often wonder why we, people with disability, are still denied equal rights in 2017…

The Disability Discrimination Act was enacted in 1992, however disability discrimination occurs on a daily basis in our society. Professor Roberto Saba wrote an article expressing similar sentiments, entitled ‘Around the Globe People with Disabilities Face Unseen Discrimination we must do better’.

In this article, Professor Saba discusses the prevalence of structural inequality, experienced by people with disability on a worldwide scale.

Professor Saba believes that to understand why people with disability do not have equal rights, one needs to understand the difference between legal equality and real equality.

Legal equality involve citizens having the right to fair treatment under the law. However, real equality requires governments dismantling structures that perpetuates disadvantage among minority groups. One way governments can achieve this is by implementing policies such as affirmative action (preferential treatment) for minority groups.

Read the article here

 

Around the globe, people with disabilities face unseen discrimination. We must do better.

In Argentina, there is no formal or legal barrier to women becoming judges. But according to a 2013 report, 56% of Inferior Judges, 67% of Appeal Judges and 78% of State Justices in Argentinean courts are men. Why should this be the case? The answer is, of course, structural inequality.

 

Currently in Australia people with disability experience severe levels of disadvantage in comparison to people without a disability. In a submission by the National Disability Services Victoria (NDSV), they stated that 43% of people with a disability rely on income support as their main source of income.

They claimed that 53% of people with a disability are employed compared to 83% of people without a disability.

Employees with disability have a significantly lower income of $400 per week compared with $750 per week for people without a disability. The NDSV wrote that the government has a large role to play in addressing these grim statistics.

What I’ve discussed so far may appear discouraging. However, it is beyond time for the government to acknowledge and dismantle the structural barriers people with disability face.

A researcher Mark Sherry claimed that the removal of structural barriers requires government investment in transport, buildings, communication and education infrastructure. Another researcher Rose Galvan claimed that further structural changes are required to dismantle the barriers people with disability face.

These changes may include adaptions to the built environments to make public places physical accessible. This requires a great investment by the government, however the question remains will governments be willing to do this?

In fact some may claim that government occasionally benefits from maintaining some of the structural disadvantage confronted by people with disability.

Researcher Alan Morris states that in the current labour market, values of profit margins, efficiency and productivity are predominant, making it difficult for people with disability to compete with other employees.  Some policy makers prefer economic rationalism, so equal opportunities for people with disability in the workplace wouldn’t appeal to them.

Is it all doom and gloom?

Although, it may seem doom and gloom, people with a disability have come a long way in trying to achieve equality. However, there is a long way to go before we are all on an even par.

We must urge policy makers to eradicate structural barriers preventing us to achieve equality. I strongly believe it can happen. I know that professor Saba is right in saying people with disability need real equality.

Let’s start the discussion and turn the dream of real equality for people with disability into a reality!

 

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A Great Step in the Right Direction

Jordon Steele-John, who is set to fill Scott Ludlam’s seat in the Senate for the Australian Greens: ‘I’m capable and ready to do this job.’ Photograph: Greens

 

Excitement infused my veins as I read that Jordon Steele-John, a man with cerebral palsy, is next in line to be the next Western Australian Green Senator.

As a woman with a disability, this represents a huge milestone for the disability community. I strongly believe this illustrates that people with a disability are starting to be included in all areas of life.

Mr Steele-John who attends university, claimed that having a disability shouldn’t prevent anyone from achieving their goals. Mr Steele-John stated that he yearns to be a voice for people with disability.

As a person with a disability, when I was young I wasn’t aware of anyone with a disability in leadership roles. I didn’t really have role models with a disability, so having this representation is so important.

Mr Steele-John had to be creative whilst campaigning as the Greens candidate in Freemantle in 2013. He stated that door knocking may have been a challenge. However, he negotiated his way around this by distributing leaflets in a shopping centre, from a table containing campaign material.This shows that people with a disability may not use standard methods for achieving their goals. However, they can use alternative methods and achieve the same outcome.

I resonate with Mr Steele-John’s experience. I am often viewed as a person who requires care, not as a productive member of society. Not only is this disheartening for people with a disability, it also deprives society from reaping the benefits of having a highly productive workforce.

 

Ludlam’s likely replacement Steele-John wants to open doors for people with disabilities

Jordon Steele-John, a 22-year-old student who has cerebal palsy and uses a wheelchair and is the frontrunner to replace Scott Ludlam in the Senate, says he wants to break down barriers that stop people participating as full and equal citizens.

Why is this exciting?

Many people, including myself, are excited with the prospect of having someone with a disability in parliament.

I strongly believe we must strive for the time when a person with a disability becomes a member of parliament and it is considered the norm.

We become enthusiastic when we see people with a disability achieve goals people without a disability are expected to achieve. When people without a disability become a member of parliament for instance, we probably wouldn’t consider this to be too out of the ordinary.

I hope one day we will simply expect people with a disability to be members of parliament and to be active participants in all areas of society. I believe there will be a time when people with disability will be included in all areas of life.

People may say I’m a dreamer. However, I believe this can be a reality.

 

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Welcome to Untapped, a Newcastle initiative to create change for people with disabilities.

Newcastle Coast

What are we doing?

The inspiration for the Untapped platform occurred just over a year ago to create change in the way businesses, employers and communities think about employing people with disabilities.

Natasha Hudson from Coforte Consulting approached Response Services with the idea to bring a diverse team of people together to enhance the economic participation of people with disabilities. This diverse team of people consists of people with disabilities, carers, government representatives, service providers and other small businesses, have come together to identify existing innovation, barriers and practical solutions for economic development for people with living with disabilities. From this initial idea, Untapped was developed.

 

What is Untapped?

The Untapped platform was designed to create change in the way businesses, employers and communities think about employing people with disabilities. People with disabilities steer this platform to educate and alter widespread misconceptions and behaviour. The objective is for this platform to be a trusted resource for employers and the wider community.  The aim is to inspire mainstream business to become more inclusive. Once I was told of the objective of the platform I was in! I am extremely passionate regarding the topic of increasing employment opportunities for people with disabilities. As a person with a disability, my main objective in life has been to achieve employment, however, this has been thwarted due to employers misconceptions. I strongly believe if employers were educated, their attitudes would alter dramatically. I’m extremely enthused to be a part of this platform.

Earlier in the year, I was privileged to be asked to be a part of the Untapped platform. I approached Response Services to seek assistance in finding work. When I met Loesja Koleniuk from Response Services, I informed her I was a qualified researcher and writer.  I sought assistance in having my own business as a freelance writer. I told her about some of the challenges I’ve had with obtaining employment in the past. After reviewing my skills, Response Services offered me work as a freelance writer for the Untapped platform they were developing. I was ecstatic, and extremely impressed with Response Services. Not only do they talk the talk, they walk the walk. Response Services are actually doing what they are promoting, they are including people with disabilities.

My task is to write a blog each week. I include research and experiences of other people with disabilities. I also include my own personal experience of having a disability. This may appear self-indulgent, but I believe my experience may educate people and they will hopefully see I’m an extremely capable woman. By sharing my story with people with disabilities, it is my hope that others can learn from my experience.

Who?

Strategic non-profit partnerships can offer a slew of attractive benefits. From improving outreach efforts to enhancing programs, services and can help your organisation improve its impact, and sustainability. So, in an effort to expand outreach efforts and enhance the effectiveness of Untapped, we wanted to partner with other movements, businesses and organisations.

In In June we met with Mark Bagshaw, Co-founder and Chair of The Able Movement, a new social movement working to change attitudes about this enormous capacity people with disability bring to our society. The Able Movement shares the vision of Untapped, to bring about change and share the stories to demonstrate capabilities of people with disabilities. The Able Movement firmly believes that people with disabilities are capable of participating at all levels of society, they aspire to show employers that ability outweighs disability. Together, Untapped and The Able Movement recognises the power of sharing stories in generating social change. These stories will show the vibrancy of people with disabilities.

The Untapped platform will allow the voices of people with disabilities to be heard. Furthermore, it will show employers that people with disabilities can be extremely productive employees. We will show how hiring people with disabilities can enhance businesses. Society will reap benefits from an increase of people with disabilities in the workforce. We hope that the platform will be the impetus for change in the economic situation for people with disabilities.

Please join us in this journey.

 

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