Laura Scurr.
Laura Scurr. Rachael Murray

Three degrees, 170 applications, no job for disabled woman

YOUR STORY: Laura Scurr responds to The Chronicle's coverage of the proposed overhaul of Australia's welfare system.

WHILE articles such as this are important in highlighting the fight people with a disability face each day to be accepted in society and to be granted the right of meaningful employment, as a university graduate with a burning desire to be employed despite being born with a physical disability I couldn't leave my opinions unsaid in relation to this article.

Sadly, in my opinion, the words chosen by the CEO of the local mental health service provider, may in fact hinder the efforts of people with a disability in their search for work.

Specifically I relate to his statement which says "…..whether those entry level jobs suitable for people with limited abilities would be created" which in my opinion could be interpreted by local employers and employment agencies as people with a disability being unable to hold down anything more than an entry level position.

While this may be the case for some people with a disability, in my opinion this is certainly not the case for all people with a disability.

Reform is desperately needed within both education as well as employment for people with disabilities.

The current system for employment of people with a disability requires that these people be assessed by Centrelink to determine their working capacity.

This then makes them eligible for service provided by a Disability Employment Service Provider.

Should more be done to help disabled people gain employment?

This poll ended on 07 March 2015.

Current Results

Yes

91%

No

8%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

Let me share with you my experience of this; for the past 16 months  I  have been working as an executive assistant  for a prominent local organisation, I then decided I wanted to leave this position to pursue a career which would allow me to utilise the skills and knowledge I'd gained at university.

As some local "mainstream"   employment service providers (ie not a Disability Employment Service Provider) refuse to work with people who have a disability, I was forced to be assessed.

Despite the fact that I had been working full time and had in fact worked anywhere up to 70 hours per week, I was assessed as only being capable of 15 hours of work a week. 

I have shared this with you to highlight the difficulties those who want to work experience with the current system.

I have completed three degrees at the University of Southern Queensland within the area of accounting and to date I have applied for in excess of 170 jobs, this, in my opinion, proves that there are jobs out there.

Sadly the reactions I have received to date range from immediate rejection from local employers who in my opinion are too scared to ask me questions about my disability, to an obvious desire by employers to exploit my disability for their own financial benefit.

I believe what is needed is for the wider society to be shown that people with a disability are capable of full time employment.

This will only occur when  people who are in a position within a disability organisation begin to solely focus on the abilities of the people they claim to be supporting, instead of  trying to limit their potential and thus ensure the longevity of the organisation they are working for. 

If Australia is serious about these reforms it needs to start educating mainstream employers and employment service providers about the proven benefits of employing people with a disability. Some of these benefits include lower absenteeism and increased loyalty (Job Services Australia n'd).

As a nation, Australia ranks LAST among OECD countries in terms  of people with a disability living at or below the poverty line and 21st out of 29 OECD countries in relation to employment participation rates for those with a disability(PwC 2012).

n order for these shocking statistics to be addressed, it is my belief that, we, as a nation, need to change the way we perceive people with a disability.

We need to increase our expectations in relation to their capacity and we need to start focusing on ensuring that young people with a disability are not only given the opportunity to reach their full potential but that they are expected to do so.
 



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