Exploring Innovation in Employment For People With Disability
Our goal for the conference is to help more people with a disability find paid work. But not just any old work. We want to see people doing work that they are good at and enjoy. And we want them to be paid award wages so that they can live a Good Life.
Our Let’s Get To Work Virtual Conference, held from June 11 – July 16, 2020, explored innovation in employment for people with disability. The Conference was free to attend, thanks to an NDIS Economic Participation ILC Grant. Over 600 people from around Australia and across the world registered to attend.
On this page you can:
- Find out about why employment for people with disability is such an important topic
- Find links to resources from each session
Session 1: Why we need to talk about employment
Thursday, June 11, 2020
- Jan Kruger, Executive Director of Imagine More
- Cameron Zellner, owner of Zellner Services (a microenterprise)
- Jack Kruger, Administrative Assistant, University of Canberra
- Gus Reichelt, Research Assistant at CSIRO
Jan opened the Virtual Conference and provided some background information about employment for people with disabilities.
Cameron, Jack and Gus launched three short videos created as part of Imagine More’s work for the NDIS Economic Participation ILC Grant. Each tells a story about these young men and their employment journeys.
Find resources from Session 1 here, including the videos, slide decks, transcripts and session replay. More will be added soon.
Session 2: Finding work through connections and community
Thursday, June 18, 2020
- Ann Greer, Consultant experienced in disability employment
Ann discussed why work is so important, and why it’s essential to prepare for work early.
People with impairments will generally have different learning and movement styles. Systematic instruction of tasks is often required. Attention must also be paid to matching the most effective supports to the individual and the workplace.
One of the benefits of working is getting paid, so Ann discussed the meaning of money and how to support people with intellectual disabilities to budget.
Find resources from session 2 here, including a replay. We are still adding content to this page, and all of the resources Ann mentioned will be available soon.
Session 3: Reimagining supported employment
Thursday, June 25, 2020
- Jeannie Hodges, Director, NDIA Participant Employment Taskforce, National Disability Insurance Agency
Jeannie introduced the NDIA’s employment strategy for NDIS participants. She explained the five focus areas of the strategy, the first of which is to include employment goals in NDIS plans.
She explained why it’s important to think differently about customised employment. Jeannie also described why forming a microenterprise may be a key deliverable in future NDIS Plans.
Find resources from Session 3 here. Please note that the replay will only be available for a limited time.
Sessions 4 and 5: Customised employment
Thursday, July 2 and Thursday, July 9, 2020
- Dr June Alexander PhD, MDisSt, BAppSc(DD), DipCommServ (FSW), CertIV (AWT)
- Lecturer at Flinders University
- Academic Director Learning Programs at Centre for Disability Employment Research and Practice (CDERP)
Customised Employment (CE) is a US system to support employees with disabilities to gain and maintain employment.
It has two fundamental underlying principles
- Everyone can work in Open Employment
- Those with complex disabilities are disadvantaged by traditional job-seeking practices.
Customised Employment is a process that matches a person with disability to the needs of an employer, creating a match in a customised job. It is based on identifying the strengths of a person with a disability through a process called ‘Discovery.’
Additionally, CE includes a job development process and ongoing job training and supports.
CE considers the unique person, that is, their age, type of disability, interests and talents, while also recognising geographical location, support systems and resources. Good job matching leads to both individuals and companies enjoying the benefits of CE which results in employee retention.
We were not able to secure permission to host a replay of these sessions on our website. But we have an extensive list of resources that June recommended.
Session 6: Stories of microenterprise
Thursday, July 16, 2020
From little things, big things grow
- Freya and Donna Toussaint – Owners of Thinking Of You Gift
Freya loves receiving and giving gifts. Donna has worked as a florist and in the arts industry all her life. Together the daughter-mother team are partners in a gift service and shop called Thinking Of You Gift, which operates at the Queensland Children’s Hospital.
Donna spent a frantic few years dreaming and scheming, looking for opportunities for Freya’s employment. 2020 marks the fifth year of the kiosk ‘s opening, which was launched in 2015 prior to Freya leaving school.
Both partners are proud of their achievement at establishing a unique business built on their own gifts and talents.
- For conference attendees, Thinking of You Gift is offering a code which provides a $25 discount on customised bunting only and is available from July 1 to August 31. Please use the code: IMAGINEMORE (capitals with no space). Enter the code in the shopping cart when you make a bunting purchase). The website is www.thinkingofyougift.com.
Master Shredder: Powered by possibility, not defined by disability
- Joanne Lynam, Mother of Emma, The Master Shredder
Joanne will share the story of how her daughter, Emma, started her microenterprise, The Master Shredder. Joanne used her connections in the community to get the business started and then to grow.
Emma began her business with significant paid support. But Joanne had always planned to reduce this as Emma developed her skills. Emma’s staff have successfully faded support, and now she works independently.
The replay and resources will be added to our website soon.
About Work For People With Disabilities
Australians with a disability are much less likely to have paid work than Australians with no disability. In fact, the unemployment rate is growing for people with disability. And even when a person with disability has paid work, this is likely to be a part-time rather than a full-time role. People with disability are also less likely to be paid award wages.
There are 2.1 million Australians of working age with disability. Of these, just under half were employed (47.8%), compared with 80.3% of people without disability. People with intellectual disabilities are the least likely to be in open employment.
There are many barriers to employment for a person with disability, including
- low expectations
- inadequate supports, and
- limited opportunities
We want to change these woeful employment statistics. As a country, we need to innovate our approach to employment for people with a disability. We must support them in realising their desire to work and live their life with purpose.
Our Government agrees. The NDIA has recently released the NDIS Participant Employment Strategy. This strategy sets out the Agency’s plan to help NDIS participants find and maintain meaningful employment. The Agency wants to see 30% of NDIS participants of working age to be in paid work by 30 June, 2023.
Why Is Work So Important?
Having a job benefits all people by
- expanding social networks
- increasing community connections
- providing greater financial independence
- improving health and wellbeing and
- providing a stronger sense of identity and self worth.
The Let’s Get to Work Conference will focus on employment for people living with disability. We will answer questions about customised employment and microenterprise.
Customised Employment is the term used to describe the creation of a valuable workplace role to match a person’s interests and skills.
A Microenterprise is a very small business. It is simple to start because it requires very little capital. But it can provide its owner with an opportunity to earn a living or to learn vital workplace skills.
What you will learn from the Let’s Get To Work Conference resources
- The many barriers to employment and how to break these down
- How to find employment using your connections, workplace champions and networks
- Why it’s important to employ one person at a time and to avoid disability-based groupings of people in the workplace
- Busting myths about employing people with disabilities
- Why people with disability must be involved in decision making
- How to find quality workplace roles (with award wages)
- How to find quality support in the workplace
- Why the journey towards paid employment must begin while the person is still at school
- Why people must be well supported during times of transition. For example, from school to work and when changing jobs
- Why it’s important to discover a person’s skills, talents, and interests, to help them find meaningful work
- Why the fading of support is critical to success, and why this needs to be planned
Who should review the conference resources
- People with disabilities
- Job Mentors
- Support Workers
- Potential employers
- Business owners
- DES Providers
- Community members
The Let’s Get To Work Conference was convened by Imagine More Ltd. It was funded by the National Disability Insurance Agency.