Skip to content

Tag: #untapped

Wishing You a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year



Christmas is upon us!

The scent of mince pies is in the air. Houses are decorated in lights. People are wiping off the cob webs from their tree to decorate them. It’s a time where we gain unwanted kilos and relax with loved ones. During this time, I look back on the year that is just about to pass.

One of the positives for me this year was the creation of The Untapped Platform.  As a person with a disability it has been a privilege to write about topics I feel extremely passionate about, such as disability inclusion.

As this will be my final blog piece for the year, we at Untapped, wish to sincerely thank our readers.

Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy day to read Untapped!

Over the past few months I have written about some of the triumphs and tribulations for the disability community.

I wrote about Jordon Mr Steele-John, a man with a disability, who was campaigning for a seat in the senate for Western Australia. After writing my blog,  Mr Steele-John won.   This was such a significant moment for me and the wider disability community because there is a person with disability in parliament representing our views.

I wrote about the new NDIS pathway. The NDIS intended to improve the experience the participants have with the NDIS. I found this to be positive. The new changes were the result of feedback the agency took from the participants.

I wrote about the positive connection Untapped made with Disability Matters. Disability Matters is a platform for people with disability to be heard.  People with disability can express their views on disability related issues by using this platform.  Disability Matters share the same goal as Untapped: giving people with disability a voice.

I wrote about the announcement that the disability advocacy organisations in New South Wales will have their funding removed by June 2018.This will result in disability advocacy organisations closing, which will leave many people with disability without a voice.

I wrote about employment and how the labour participation for people with disability is low. One of the main reasons is disability discrimination. We hope the Untapped Platform will improve the employment situation for people with disability by educating the wider business community.

I discussed the decline of students that have disability in mainstream schools. I am extremely passionate about this because I attended a mainstream school. I personally experienced how attending a mainstream school can change the students’ live. Students with a disability must not be excluded from mainstream schools.

So that’s some of what Untapped has done so far this year.


Have yourself an accessible little Christmas

Well, I’m ready for Christmas. My lightweight, appropriately-sized presents are wrapped. My wheelchair accessible travel to see my family is booked. My chair has had her Christmas cut and polish. I do really like Christmas. Apart from a few traditions that make this time of year a bit, well, inaccessible for me.


But before we further reflect on the year we have to get through Christmas!

I have a love hate relationship with Christmas. I enjoy spending time with loved ones. I savor every morsel of pork. I love seeing the delight on people’s faces when they receive gifts.

However I become frustrated when I go Christmas shopping.  Swarms of people go to the shops. I don’t like the endless ques. Sometimes I curse myself for not taking a book while waiting in line.

Having a disability at Christmas can have its’s challenges such as shopping for loved ones.  I sometimes need assistance with shopping. I can’t bring my loved ones to shop for their presents, unless I blindfold them because I want them to be a surprised. So therefore I have the help from a support worker. I find people, including myself, are less patient leading up to Christmas. Due to my disability, I am physically slower which holds other people up.

The late disability advocate Stella Young wrote that there were a few challenges for people with disability during the holiday season. These include having to have the prize ornament on top of the tree and an increase of people in shopping centers. She writes in spite of these challenges, Christmas for her was a lot of fun.

I really enjoy Christmas day. We do have a lot of fun. When I pull a Christmas cracker with my brothers, I place my hand halfway on it. They call it cheating.  It’s in good humour. However they don’t pull many crackers with me considering what I do!

So I hope you have a fun and relaxing time. Hope you have a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year!

1 Comment

The new NDIS pathway is announced!

As a person with a disability I was excited when I first heard of the NDIS. The notion that we would finally have voice, choice and control over our support services was liberating. The NDIS promised we would have support to fulfil our goals and to participate as citizens. I felt as though a new day had dawned!

However, the implementation of NDIS ideals hasn’t exactly come to fruition.

Due to this, the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) has designed a new NDIS pathway.

New and improved NDIS pathway?

A central feature of the new pathway is that NDIS planning meetings will be conducted face to face as opposed to over the phone.

The new pathway plan will include:

  • A consistent point of contact
  • Having a Local Area Coordinator (LAC) or NDIA planner who will understand the unique needs of each participant
  • A stronger focus on the broader system of supports i.e. transport
  • Information that is clear, consistent and available in accessible formats
  • An improved NDIS portal and tools

The new pathway will be piloted and tested over the next few months prior to being implemented nationally. The new pathway was the result of research conducted by the NDIA and the Productivity Commission.

The NDIA conducted a study consisting of feedback from 188 participants and families. Other participants included frontline staff, service providers and state officials.  The results showed that participants, families and stakeholders felt that the NDIS was not meeting benchmarks.

The Productivity Commission produced a report, showing that many NDIS participants found the planning process complex and confusing. It showed that many participants and families were disgruntled with having their planning meetings over the phone.

The commission were also told that sometimes participants were not even aware that the phone call was a planning meeting, so were not prepared for meetings which affected the quality of outcome.


The NDIS pathway experience

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) has released details of a new National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) ‘pathway’ designed to significantly improve the experience people and organisations have with the ground-breaking NDIS.

Amaze, a peak body for people with autism, stated that participants have reported feeling rushed in their planning meeting. They also felt forced into a phone planning meeting. Amaze claims there is a lack of clear and accessible information for participants about the planning process.

The Commonwealth Ombudsmen received complaints from participants and families who were given no option for a face to face meetings, even where it was clear a phone interview was not appropriate i.e. a participant who required the use of communication boards to participate.

Journalist Stephen Easton wrote, the problem is the government is exerting pressure on NDIA to roll out the scheme by 2020 and this has comprised the outcomes for participants. Therefore, the planning meetings were rushed.

It was due to complaints similar to the ones above, that the NDIA developed the new NDIS pathway.

Editor Lisa Caneva interviewed People with Disability Australia senior policy officer on the NDIS, Dr Meg Clement-Couzner. She believes that the new NDIS pathways is positive. However, she is anxious to see the outcome.

This year I didn’t have a meeting for a review of my plan. My plan was automatically renewed without any consultation from me. When I questioned this, I was told that someone tried to contact me via phone without success. So, they just continued my plan i.e. I received the same amount of funding. Due to my disability, I have problems communicating via phone, so I prefer email. The NDIA were aware of this, yet still phoned me.

Personally I can related to the fact that many participants would prefer to meet face to face with the planner.

However, despite some of these issues the NDIS has had a profound positive impact on my life. For instance, I’m able to fulfil a lifelong ambition of being employed. This was possible due to the direct assistance of the NDIS.

I applaud the NDIA for designing a new NDIS pathway. I do feel encouraged that we, people with disability will have more control over how meetings are being conducted. The fundamental purpose of the NDIS is people with disability having choice and control over their lives. I believe this can become a reality for people with disability.

With tenacity from people with disability, NDIS staff and stake holders, we’ll get there!


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.






Leave a Comment

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.



Leave a Comment

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.




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!


Leave a Comment