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Disability should not deter potential employers

18 July 2018

Katalina: We are capable of the same things.

Some people may notice that Katalina wears a badge, that her keyboard has strips of Velcro on it, or that she uses a cane to navigate when walking.

Katalina may use different tools to others in the office but it makes little difference to the job she does.

The 26-year-old impressed the team at MercyCare so much when she came on as a trainee last year that she has since been offered a permanent role with the organisation.

Katalina’s path to gaining employment was not an easy one.

She previously worked in a reception/administration role until the age of 22, when she began losing her sight.

Katalina was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa and while she hasn’t lost her sight completely, she is now considered legally blind.

When she gave up her previous job neither she, nor her employer, knew what assistance was available to help people with vision impairment stay in the workforce.

She spent the next three years applying for multiple jobs every day, attending interviews but never getting the job.

Katalina said the constant rejection was hard to deal with and she eventually “hit rock bottom”.

After seeking advice from a disability service provider, she contacted Edge Employment Solutions, a Disability Employment Provider who connected her with MercyCare and she was offered her traineeship.

The nine-month traineeship involved administration work across different areas of the MercyCare organisation, including reception, finance and human resources, before a longer placement with Family and Migration Community Services in Mirrabooka.

A month before completing the traineeship, Katalina was offered a part time administration role at MercyCare’s Mirrabooka office.

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show far less people with a disability are in the workforce than those without a disability.

About 53 per cent of those with a disability work, while 83 per cent of people without a disability are in the workforce.

Katalina said a lot of employers didn’t seem to realise people with disabilities could become valuable employees.

“If I can give employers any advice, I encourage them to give people with a disability an opportunity to show what they are capable of because we are capable of the same things as anybody else, we just have to do it a little differently but it’s manageable and it’s doable,” she said.

MercyCare Person Centred Manager Gill Watts said she was proud that MercyCare is walking the talk on disability and she encouraged other organisations and businesses to do the same.

“Research and our own experience shows that employing a person with a disability makes good business sense,” she said.

“They’re highly motivated to work, they have comparable productivity, less absenteeism, longer tenure and better safety records than other people without a disability.”

At MercyCare we are a proud NDIS provider. Every day we work with West Australian families to help them access the best support services available for their specific situation and needs.

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