There are many advantages a person with a disability can bring to an employer’s business.
According to the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, research has shown not only do people with a disability take fewer days off, less sick leave and stay in jobs for longer than other workers, they also build strong relationships with customers, boost workplace moral and have fewer compensation incidents or accidents at work compared to other workers.
“There are employers across the Bega Valley who understand the value of a diverse workforce,” employment connections manager at WorkAbility David Grealy
The strengths of employees and employers were recognised at the annual Ability Day Awards. Held for 28 years, this year’s award ceremony took place in Bega on Monday, December 3.
Mr Grealy said the awards were important as they celebrated people’s strengths and abilities, rather than focusing on disability, as well as the value of having a diverse workforce.
“We all like to be part of a workforce, it’s a social thing as much as an income thing,” he said.
“It makes people feel included in the local community.”
Peter Alexander of the Bega Veterinary Hospital was the guest speaker at the awards ceremony.
He talked about the value Emily Brown, who is the longest serving employee WorkAbility has placed and has been with the veterinary hospital for 18 years, brought to his work team with her strong commitment to her work and her different perspectives.
He also talked about Ms Brown’s artwork on display at the Bega Vet Hospital.
“In the Bega Valley the employers have a really positive attitude in giving people a go and giving people career opportunities,” Mr Grealy said.
“It’s a very strong community – people look out for each other.”
He said if a business was to take on an employee from WorkAbility, they would become what was termed “disability confident”.
“This means they’ve adapted their business to welcome the employee with a disability, which improves the business as it also adapts it for customers with a disability,” he said.
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According to the Australian Network on Disability four million people, or one in five, have some form of disability.
Mr Grealy said if a employer had not adapted their business to people with a disability, they could be missing out on the business provided by that amount of the population.
WorkAbility covers the three shires of Bega Valley, Eurobodalla and Snowy Monaro. In the last year it placed 59 people in work, while 47 have been supported by the organisation in continuing work in the open workforce.