Designing a new career - by Dom Freestone
Resident graphic designer Dom Freestone brings an array of talent, creativity, ambition and experience to work every day.
Image: Dom with the Head of the Faculty of Education at The University of Newcastle.
From the day of my first interview with Life Without Barriers to when I was offered a job, I knew I had found an employer who saw me for my true value and not my disability. I joined Life Without Barriers as a graphic design intern over two years ago and I can certainly say it was a defining moment in my career. Before a diving accident left me with quadriplegia, I was working as a ground support equipment fitting engineer for the Royal Australian Air Force. I had to say goodbye to that career and start over. I literally had to design a new career. I am a creative person, so I completed a Bachelor of Visual Communication Design. My biggest challenge however, was finding an employer who judged me on my skills and not my appearance.
Image: Dom with his father Trevor in front of the Sydney harbour bridge.
Life Without Barriers offered me that opportunity and continues to challenge and engage me on a variety of interesting projects including design work for print, digital and even TV commercials. With the right workplace adjustments, I can do my job just as well as any able-bodied person. What I love most about working for Life Without Barriers is the opportunities I get to enhance and improve people’s lives, which I find personally fulfilling. I was pleased that Life Without Barriers had set an employment target for people with disability. Just hearing that Life Without Barriers was actively seeking people with disabilities to employ made me feel super comfortable - I knew I wasn’t going to roll into an interview where people were shocked to see someone with a disability. My advice to potential employers of people with disability is to understand that person’s disability and work to make the workplace suit their needs. Don’t be afraid to ask the person about how the workplace can better suit their needs as this will only benefit both parties - we can get on with the job we were hired to do and the employer can enjoy the benefits of the knowledge and skills we bring to their organisation.
Image: Dom Freestone - self portrait
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