Australian employment services provider Advanced Personnel Management launched a new campaign this week and a new study highlighting Australia's workplace inclusion gap for people with disabilities.
The APM Disability Diversity and Inclusivity Index of Australian Workplaces 2023 found 58 per cent of Australian workers with disability often feel anxious about disclosing their disability with employers.
The report carries a new campaign launched by APM called #DearFutureBoss.
APM said the campaign aimed to give those with disabilities a voice when moving towards a more inclusive and diverse workforce.
The campaign encourages people with disabilities, along with family, friends, carers, peers and employers, to create and post an open letter describing the future workplaces they want to see.
Launceston resident Kellie Reid was born with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT), an inherited genetic condition affecting the peripheral nervous system. In Ms Reid's case, it caused severe arching in her feet, making walking difficult.
"My main goal was becoming an independent worker and knowing if I needed something, I'd have the money there," Ms Reid said.
"I've learnt I can do whatever I want and achieve anything."
In 2021, Ms Reid had a successful operation which attempted to straighten her feet by fusing her ankles. APM helped her secure a role with Tasmanian Redline as a bus driver through the healing process.
Ms Reid previously undertook several voluntary roles with the Salvation Army and Fire Brigade but could not convert these into paid employment opportunities.
After a successful work trial, Ms Reid now works full-time and lives in a stable rental property with her two children.
APM was able to fund Kellie's first aid training, along with her public passenger vehicle license and a pair of glasses to enhance her ability to complete her role.
She encouraged anyone with a disability not to give up seeking employment.
"Don't give up looking for work. You might have to stick it out, but it can be done," said Ms Reid.
She said the attitudes towards people with disability in the workforce should be changed.
"People are people. It doesn't matter whether they've got a disability or not."
"Maybe they can't climb stairs, but they're worth a go at any job."
According to the DDI index, despite 79 per cent of businesses wanting to actively hire people with disabilities, many are unaware of how to pursue the process.
The top things employers cite as barriers to employing people with disability are the cost of training and the lack of easily accessible information.
To ease this process, APM created a disability and inclusion guide designed to help businesses build more inclusive workplaces.
"I thought it was going to be a real challenge driving due to my ankle fusion, but once you get into it's easy."
"I really enjoy the job."
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