Ausnew Home Care | Ivy struggled to find a job, then she did a Brisbane internship for people with disabilities

Ivy struggled to find a job, then she did a Brisbane internship for people with disabilities

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Ivy Belavy wanted to work in healthcare so she could help people but found employers often "didn't have the patience for her". 

The Brisbane 19-year-old, who has a disability, sometimes finds it hard to make herself understood, or to understand others. 

"Some employers didn't have the patience for me," she said.

"I take longer due to my learning challenges."

Ms Belavy signed up for an internship through Project SEARCH — run by Uniting Care — which supports people with disabilities to get work experience. 

She did work experience in the orderly teams at The Wesley Hospital in Brisbane, helping deliver medical equipment, and got a TAFE certificate in health services assistance. 

"With hands-on skills, she was great, but in terms of learning and communication, she needed some additional support," the project's manager, Cameron Williams, said.

a young woman holding hospital equipment
Ms Belavy did a 12-month internship with Project SEARCH. (ABC News: Mark Leonardi)

Now, she works in aged care and housekeeping. 

A survey by Griffith University and Queenslanders with Disability Network found 70 per cent of people with disabilities did not believe Queensland employers hired people like them. 

Most of the respondents had a job, but the majority made less than $75,000 a year — and 20 per cent of those who responded were at the poverty line, it found. 

a young man in a work shirt smiling in front of two desktop screens
Rahul Singh has always loved numbers, and an internship gave him the chance to learn other, "soft" skills. 

'I feel proud of myself'

Rahul Singh has an accounting degree, but still found it difficult to get a job. 

"I love numbers, and I am pretty good at them," he said.

"So, I thought I can thrive in this profession and help realise my potential."

The 24-year-old, who has autism and a speech impediment, said the project helped build his confidence. 

In one of his placements, it took him just a week to do the amount of work it would take an experienced employee to do in a month. 

"I feel proud of myself for what I've done," he said.

He now works for the ACT government as an accounting graduate. 

a man in a purple polo top smiling into the camera
Cameron Williams says employers often fail to see what people with disabilities are capable of. (ABC News: Mark Leonardi)

Mr Williams said the program had given Mr Singh the "soft skills" he needed, like teamwork. 

"Once he nailed those, he's been an absolutely great employee," he said.

Employed, but on less than $75k

About 300 people were surveyed for Voices of Queenslanders with Disabilities, which was commissioned by the state government. 

"The majority of participants were actually employed, so that wasn't something that we had expected," Griffith University Research Fellow Kelsey Chapman, report co-author, said.

"What wasn't a surprise is that most of the participants were employed in jobs where they were earning less than $75,000 a year, and 20 per cent were at the poverty line."

Many reported "ableist attitudes" and non-inclusive workplaces she said. 

Those who were working full time reported having the most support, and "were doing work that was important and meaningful for them."

a woman with blonde hair smiling into the camera
Griffith University researcher Kelsey Chapman says the majority of people who responded had a job. (ABC News: Mark Leonardi)

She said the report was the first of its kind for the state. 

It also showed the need for more support for people with disabilities, she said. 

"We had people who shared with us that they were making choices between buying food and medication or between seeing a specialist and paying for medication," Ms Chapman said.

'Milestone' study

Queenslanders with Disability Network's CEO Michelle Moss said the report was a "ground-breaking milestone" which gave a snapshot of the lives of people with disabilities. 

"By bringing the real experiences of Queenslanders with disabilities to the forefront, decision-makers will have a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by this community," she said.

Queensland Disability Services Minister Craig Crawford said the survey was a way to measure the progress of the state's disability plan. 

"This first report represents a baseline against which progress will be measured," he said.

"We are working towards doing it annually."

a man sat beside two monitors looking at the screens
Mr Singh now works for the ACT government. (ABC News: Mark Leonardi)

The most significant barrier for people with disabilities is employers failing to see their ability, Mr Williams said. 

"The young people not only enjoy it and get those employment outcomes, but the businesses themselves benefit from inclusion, diversity, and just having them part of the team," he said.

a young woman with braids
Ms Belavy did an internship at a Brisbane hospital as part of the program. (ABC News: Mark Leonardi)

Ms Belavy said working makes her feel useful and independent.

"I feel like I can apply for jobs now, and I have a chance of getting them," she said.

"People with disabilities might take a bit longer to learn a task, but once they've got it, they can do it just as well."


Source: ABC

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