At the start of 2020’s Disability Action Week (13th September – 19th September), we thought it important to explore the ‘invisible barrier’ that persons with disability often experience when looking for work.
As highlighted by Paralympian and world tennis star Dylan Alcott’s campaign ‘Remove the Barrier’ , which aims to highlight the invisible barrier that persons with disability often experience when looking for work, less focus needs to be on the disability and more on a person’s ability to perform the role.
Oliver Hunter, who features in Dylan Alcotts campaign says it well, “living with a disability means you have to be extraordinary to be ordinary and that is a strength, not something to be patronised for”.
Nate Quinell, a client of ON-Q Disability Employment Services, has never let the fact that he is blind and deaf prevent him from following his career passion. A qualified chef who has previously owned his own café and authored a cookbook ‘The Hurricane Chef’, Nate struggled to find work throughout 2019, made all the more harder when Covid-19 hit in early 2020.
With support from Nate’s employment consultant at ON-Q Disability Employment Services, and a media campaign to get the word out there (including a feature on Studio 10), Nate was soon offered work as a chef in a care facility near his home, and he couldn’t be happier! Nate performs his role as well as any other chef, just with a few extra pieces of equipment and resources.
With available government funding for potential workplace modifications required and support through NDIS, accommodating persons with disability in a workplace is easily achieved.
It is also encouraging to see the backing of big corporates like ANZ and Nike for Dylan Alcott’s Remove the Barrier campaign. With 1 in 5 Australians living with disability, and only 54% of them employed, now more than ever we need to change our perceptions and remove the unconscious bias that is preventing a great deal of talented people from contributing in our workplaces.
Like Hunter says, “It might be another business and company and government organisation sees this and goes ‘well, we need to think about it too’. And then before you know it, people with disabilities have better jobs”.
Dylan Alcott’s Remove the Barrier campaign
Image courtesy of the Dylan Alcott Foundation.