Benefits of inclusive employment flow far beyond the employee

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Recent research by the University of Melbourne shows that whilst people with disability represent nearly a fifth of the population, they are drastically under-represented in the workforce. They are also twice as likely to be unemployed due to barriers such as a lack of access to education and training, inaccessible work environments, misconceptions, stigma and discrimination.

Senior Research Fellow, Jesse Olsen, highlights the myriad of benefits of including people with disability in the workplace.

Inclusive employment creates workplaces with higher group performance and profits, and a broad range of social and economic benefits from a community perspective. Beyond the benefits to the employer and the community, we cannot underestimate the positive impact a meaningful job has on the personal, social and economic outcomes for a person with disability.

For the past 25 years, Interchange has supported people with disability to be active in their community through volunteering, the arts, sport and recreation, and in recent years increasingly to secure financial independence through employment or self-employment.

Following are a few examples of the successful job outcomes we have been fortunate to be part of, be that self-employment through micro-business, paid jobs through supported or mainstream employment, volunteering opportunities to get experience for future employment, or new opportunities through customised employment support which is funded by NDIS and WA NDIS.

Man sitting in a wheelchair, in a room with white walls and in front of a table which shows his wood engraving artwork
Ben at a recent exhibition of his work

Ben has an amazing eye and talent for expressing his creative skills through pyrography (take a moment to visit his Facebook page to see his engraving and burnt image artworks). Ben has the talent, the drive and the skill and, with a little support from Interchange to secure his raw materials and source the customised tools he needs to create his artwork, he has gone on from strength to strength.

Interchange recently sponsored Ben to complete a public speaking course so that he would become more confident in promoting his business. This experience has unearthed further talent and passion which has resulted in positive outcomes for his business, as well as a new potential career path through paid public speaking opportunities.

Whilst there may be barriers to mainstream employment yet to be overcome, there are no barriers to Ben developing his micro-businesses and gaining financial independence. Ben is part of a new generation of entrepreneurs who are using community connections, the internet and social media to promote their business and make sales.

Through our collaboration with mainstream and disability employment services, we also help the people we support take advantage of traditional employment opportunities. Following his passion for horticulture and the outdoors, Don has now secured employment in a gardening crew. Our role in supporting Don was to help him regain confidence and belief in his talents after an extended period of unemployment and personal challenges. Supporting Don to establish work routines, prepare his resume, prepare for interviews and follow up on work opportunities has resulted in a new job, as well as renewed confidence and aspirations for the future.

Marc has a passion for cars and wanted to find a job that would help him to be part of this world. His support team drew on this interest to look for opportunities for employment and was successful in helping him to gain a volunteer role at Challenger Ford. Ideally this role will provide Marc the experience he needs to secure paid employment in the future, but for Marc, the opportunity to gain skills and demonstrate his job-readiness is a great outcome in itself.

In some part, the increasing focus on employment is an outcome of people accessing funding from the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS & WA NDIS), which has at its core a goal to increase social and economic participation for people with disability.

Interchange is incredibly excited to offer new customised employment exploration and transition services , which are designed to support people to discover their own unique skills and talents, and harness those talents to identify and create a job role or small business that is tailored to them. Specifically, these services are designed to support people who don’t tick all the boxes for open or supported employment, and those who want to pursue their passion in the workplace.

If you’d like to talk to us about customised employment opportunities that suit you, please get in touch.