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Mutual benefits from forum for young job-seekers with disability and local governments

Networking was identified as a key strategy that could support better results for young job-seekers with disability, at a forum held in the City of Melville in February 2016.

The City and the Disability Services Commission organised the forum for local governments, Disability Employment Service providers and people with disability to explore potential employment opportunities and traineeships for young people with disability.

The value of getting to know people, making connections and getting inside an organisation – through volunteering or work experience – were highlighted as possible pathways to employment for people with disability.

Commission Director General Ron Chalmers told the forum that, from an employer’s perspective, there were countless benefits to employing a person with disability.

Some of these are that employees with disability are particularly reliable, have higher rates of retention and are productive.

Research shows that a diverse workplace including people with disability builds strong connections with customers and boosts workplace morale and staff loyalty.

The forum also heard that stereotypical assumptions and attitudes from employers about what people with disability could and could not do were still the most significant barriers for people with disability seeking employment.

Several speakers agreed that governments could lead the way by improving their employment practices and developing clear strategies to address concerns about the perceived costs and risks associated with employing people with disability.

Dr Chalmers said that some of the best work was the result of collaboration and it was pleasing to see government agencies working alongside local government authorities and Disability Employment Services to address this gap.

The forum was attended by 27 young people with disability who spent the morning networking with representatives from seven local governments.

City of Melville Chief Executive Dr Shayne Silcox said the local government sector offered a range of roles – but it wasn’t always clear what was available.

He urged job seekers to make contact with their local government authority and build a relationship, then look for opportunities for work experience or volunteering. He also invited attendees to visit Melville council to see what types of roles were available and how Melville approached employment of people with disability.

Forum participants with disability said key learnings related to networking, the types of jobs available in local government, meeting local government representatives and getting advice about how and who to approach when seeking employment.

The employment forum built on a series of training workshops for local government held as part of the Lighthouse Project, a Disability Services Commission and Local Government Managers Australia WA partnership that seeks to increase the employment of people with disability in local government.

Steven Wheadon, left, Kadjann Veloo, Erin Barnett, Jordan Renner and Griffin Court at the forum.

Steven Wheadon, left, Kadjann Veloo, Erin Barnett, Jordan Renner and Griffin Court at the forum.