Life Without Barriers is committed to creating an inclusive and accessible workplace where employees with disability can thrive.
We strive to offer real jobs and meaningful careers for all of our employees.
One of the ways we do this is through participation in the Australian Network on Disability's (AND) Stepping Into Internship program. The program offers practical paid work experience for students with disability who may face significant obstacles in gaining employment.
We asked two of our employees who secured permanent employment with us via the program to share their stories.
"Finding meaningful employment is hard for everyone, but this task can seem impossible when you also have a disability.
"I finished university at the end of 2017, obtaining a Bachelor of Visual Communication Design with Distinction. I finished with the highest grade point average of my graduating year. Despite this, I was apprehensive about finding employment in my chosen field, graphic design, as a person with quadriplegia.
"I didn’t doubt my skills or my ability to do the job; I only doubted being given an opportunity to prove myself."
"Being physically disabled and thinking about applying for jobs, attending interviews in buildings that maybe not be accessible, and sitting in front of people who may have no idea that I was a person with quadriplegia, was extraordinarily daunting and anxiety-inducing.
"I was extremely fortunate to be involved with an employment agency that knew about the Stepping Into Internship program offered by AND.
"AND specifically worked with organisations looking to provide employment opportunities for people with disability. It gave me the confidence to know that the employers I was in contact with were completely aware of my disability, and all I had to worry about was nailing the interview.
"Thanks to AND, I was offered an internship with Life Without Barriers. AND ensured the workplace was accessible and I had everything I needed to succeed in my new role without worrying about my disability impeding my career progression. They made the transition into my new career so much easier than I had expected it to be.
"I now work five days a week as a graphic designer. I thought this an impossibility when I finished university. My thanks to the Australian Network on Disability and Life Without Barriers for understanding my needs and working with me to show that I can be a valued member of the team."
Image: Dom wearing a peach coloured shirt and tan pants, is next to Bree, wearing a black dress with flowers, at Life Without Barriers' Newcastle office.
"Before my time at Life Without Barriers, I was involved in the Newcastle University Students Association as Convener for Disabilities. Through this work, I learned of the Australian Network on Disability and their Stepping Into Internship program.
"I was excited when I saw an opportunity calling for an Accounting Intern at Life Without Barriers. As someone passionate about disability advocacy, it felt right that this opportunity would arise and put me on the path to a goal-oriented career.
"During my internship, I was supported to go slowly and felt no pressure. I required minimal workplace adjustments and quickly demonstrated confidence in my work. The technical challenges appealed greatly to my analytical nature, and my team were all disability confident.
"I felt truly accepted for the first time in a workplace."
"Sadly, my internship came to an end. But on my way out, a position became available, and I was encouraged to apply. There was strong competition, but I’m happy to say the skills and expertise I learned during my internship set me apart from the other applicants. The remaining history to now is a rich and vivid tapestry, ever-evolving as I discover new heights of mine and others' potential.
"I now have the privilege of calling myself a Provisional Chartered Accountant and Co-Chair of Life Without Barriers’ Disability Ability Wellness Network (DAWN). I look forward to a long career using these skills to create further opportunities for other people with disability.
"My Stepping Into Internship was my step into a disability confident world."
"I applaud the work of AND and Life Without Barriers. I strongly encourage all organisations to look past the disability and see the talented, brilliant individual underneath. There is so much untapped talent and insight you may be missing out on."
Image: Dwayne standing outdoors with short blue hair, wearing a black T-shirt.
The Australian Network on Disability has launched Alumni Connect, Australia’s first alumni network for talented university graduates with disability. The network will connect over 2200 alumni who have taken part in the Stepping Into Internship Program over the past 18 years with employers who want to broaden their recruitment pool.
Life Without Barriers proudly supports Alumni Connect, sharing AND's goal to connect Australian organisations to more people with disability and create a disability-confident Australia.
Registration for Alumni Connect closes on 18 March 2023. Visit the Australian Network on Disability website to register and learn more.
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