Employers and Job Seekers with Disability Connected at Innovative Employment Forum

David Sagar, CEO of the Work Health Group, presenting at the atWork Australia Industry Connections forum
David Sagar, CEO of the Work Health Group, presenting at the atWork Australia Industry Connections forum

PERTH – atWork Australia, part of the Work Health Group, hosted the Industry Connections employment forum on Wednesday 24th May. The event focused on supporting Perth employers to find the right staff for their businesses.

CEO of the Work Health Group, David Sagar, said employers risked missing out on a range of benefits to their business if they inadvertently ignore the full talent pool, which includes valuable potential employees with disability. He said capable and talented people with disability in the past may have been overlooked as the right person for a job despite wage subsidies and government support for employers.

The innovative forum connected more than 40 employer representatives, a dozen job-ready candidates, Australian Government representatives, the Swan Chamber of Commerce and several training providers. All heard how the Disability Employment Services program can help businesses benefit from employing people with disabilities.

Networking during the forum resulted in CVs being exchanged between job seekers and employers, with a number of employers committing to explore vacancies. One job seeker is already finalising an opportunity with a small business in hospitality, which she is looking forward to because it will help to ‘get back into the swing of things and have a purpose’. atWork Australia’s consultants are continuing to follow up with employers to maximise the benefit of the connections made by our job seekers, which mainly represent employment opportunities in the logistics, construction and facilities management industries.

Employer and job seeker discussing the job seeker's CV
Job seekers connected with potential employers at the event, some taking the opportunity to present their CVs

“We want employers to be successful and find the right staff. We help them to tap into the full talent pool, wage subsidies and Government incentives, and also the range of business benefits that come with employing people with disability.

“Commercial benefits are many and include high productivity, safety, strong attendance rates and loyalty. Employees with disability are good for business in more intangible ways too. People with disability build diversity and enhance a company’s image, strengthen relationships with customers, and boost staff morale and loyalty.

“All this means smart employers must consider people with disability in their recruitment approach,” Mr Sagar said.

atWork Australia’s General Manager Michael Kolomyjec said the forum showcased how DES providers enable employer and job seeker connections that result in long term jobs and a diverse workforce.

“Traditionally, people with disability may have faced more barriers to employment than other workers but we’re seeing a change dictated by the fact that more employers understand the right person for the job isn’t always who they might have first expected to hire,” Mr Kolomyjec said.

“DES delivers capable staff who are statistically as, if not more, productive, reliable, safe and affordable as other workers and that’s music to an employer’s ears,” he said. “They want to access the right staff, and DES providers enable employers to save time and money with pre-screened local staff.”

Glenn Mitchell, former leading ABC broadcaster and writer, spoke at the forum about his personal mental health issues, conquering them and reshaping his life through the power of work.

As a result of the event’s success, atWork Australia has been invited to provide mental health first aid training to the executive team of a large Perth employer.

The importance of how employers can support staff was also raised by Perth radio star Heidi Anderson who, having lived and worked with anxiety, enjoys support from colleagues and her employer that ensures she succeeds at work despite mental health barriers.

“One in five Australians live with disability and so it’s likely most businesses already employ people with a visible or invisible disability,” said Mr Kolomyjec.

The Work Health Group is guided by its mission to optimise work and life participation for people with injury, illness, disability and disadvantage and is proud to deliver services and events such as the forum, that help Australians to build better lives through work.

The Industry Connections breakfast was blessed by Ngungar representative Barry McGuire who delivered a ‘Welcome to Country’ on behalf of the Whajuk people.