The Orange disability community has been making great headway in the workforce, however one local business says there is still much work to be done to provide equal opportunity. Employment services provider Sureway Employment and Training revealed the latest statistics on the local job market, with over five per cent of people assisted into employment via the service since July 1 2018, formally identifying as having some type of disability.
Sureway Regional Manager, Michael Lee, said that the figures were a great win for the Orange community. "We began delivering Disability Employment Services (DES) in Orange on July 1 under a new model which gives people more choice over the services they receive." he said. "I think that these figures show not only that local employers are becoming more educated on hiring people with disability, but that these job seekers are getting the right support to prepare them for the workplace".
Mr Lee credits the community education to public events the business ran in 2018 featuring Paralympian Scott Reardon, who underwent a leg amputation at just 12 years of age following a farming accident. Mr Reardon, a T42 Sprinter, delivered a strong push to employers on the day asking them to take a chance on someone with disability.
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"There's a preconception that someone with disability might require extra effort." he said. "But I really implore business owners to realise the significant benefits that someone with disability can bring to your workplace".
Mr Reardon used the example of meeting Sureway employee, Keiren, when attending a meeting at the business' headquarters. "He was so welcoming. He gave me excellent customer service and you could see the way that the other team members got around him to get the work done," he said. "There wasn't one person who wasn't positive when Keiren was around."
Mr Lee said the public events that were held also helped to highlight the stigma surrounding people who identify as having disability. "Many people still think of disability as physical or intellectual only," he said. "However in the modern world, mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety account for a significant proportion of Australians living with disability".
While disability employment figures are looking up for the city, Mr Lee reiterated that this level of success was only achieved with the assistance of the local community. "A big thank you must go out to all of our fantastic employers who have provided opportunities for local people over the last nine months," he said.
"To keep our community moving forward we must work together as a team, and we will continue to support local businesses and local people to do just this".