Edge Employment Services held an empowering employer night last month – featuring 70 employers from across Perth who this year will help 400 people with a disability find work.
CEO Sally Hollins, who has been at the not-for-profit six months, drives home the fact that disability can happen to anyone at anytime and when it does, you hope someone will give you a job.
Edge has been matching people with disabilities to employers for meaningful work since 1984. This year the organisation has welcomed employers from across many sectors including Western Power, Synergy, Programmed, St John of God, with many taking on multiple employees.
Hollins is appealing to businesses to get behind the more than 1000 people registered with the organisation, pointing out that Edge will support you through the process.
“I think the stereotype that the people with disability don’t or can’t perform needs to be busted because I’ve got doctors, lawyers, marine biologists, post masters graduates – a disability can happen to anybody at any time.
“It’s the largest minority group in Australia. And when it does happen, you pray to God, that somebody will help you get back to a normal life, whatever normal is.
“It doesn’t mean that you’re not capable of doing a full-time job, of thinking, articulating, selling and managing something, it just means you have to do it differently.”
Hollins says November was a particularly celebratory month because the organisation assisted 45 people into jobs.
“So permanent, independent employment, that’s a huge deal,” she said.
“The employer night was really just to say thank you for supporting people with disability in Western Australia. And thank you for supporting Edge as we’re trying to find them jobs.”
Hollins says it is not as difficult as some may perceive to employ people with a disability.
“You may need to make some accommodations to begin with such as additional ergonomic chairs, larger screens or a voice machine so that they can hear or maybe flexible hours,” she says.
“But the thing that Edge does is work with the employers to help you. We’re not going to manage the person, that’s the employer’s job because, but what you need and how you need to do it, and even if difficult conversations had to be had along the way, we will help.
“So you’re not going to be alone. I’d say to any employer take the first step.”
Hollins says 30 per cent of employees in Edge’s head office in Subiaco have a disability and “we would have to be the happiest workplace in Perth”.
“Because I tell you what, some of our employees with more significant disabilities, they’ve got life in perspective and they remain happy through thick and thin,” she says.
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