Champions for Change to highlight benefits of hiring people with disability

A new project, Champions for Change, is helping to create inclusive employment opportunities across the Greater Bendigo and Mount Alexander and Loddon shires for people with disability by highlighting the many benefits to local employers.

The federally funded program led by the City of Greater Bendigo, will facilitate six people with disability to complete traineeships across the three local government areas. A suite of information and resources has also been developed to support local employers looking to recruit from this wide and diverse talent pool.

In addition the project has partnered with local disability service providers, the Australian Network on Disability and Be.Bendigo to produce a webinar for employers interested in hearing how they can employ people with disability.

City of Greater Bendigo Senior Inclusive Employment Officer Alison Jones said the program was designed to provide new employment opportunities, whilst educating employers about the benefits of employing people with disability.

“Prior to COVID-19, the intention of Champions for Change was to employ people with a disability and partner them with program officers to speak to businesses about inclusive employment.

“Due to restrictions, that hasn’t been possible, so we expanded the traineeship aspect of the program. This has resulted in a wonderful outcome, particularly at a time when general unemployment is high,” Ms Jones said.

“We hope the program will create a legacy of further inclusive employment opportunities within not only local government but also more broadly.

“Research has identified that a significant barrier to gaining paid employment for people with a disability is a lack of work experience. Through this program, trainees will receive an opportunity to work as part of local government whilst completing a qualification.

Olivia Ford a trainee at the City of Greater Bendigo who is completing a qualification in Customer Engagement within the City’s Tourism and Events unit said she started her traineeship two weeks before the second lockdown in regional Victoria and has been working from home.

“My traineeship will equip me with tools and experience I can use throughout my career. It’s helping me build up my knowledge and skillset and I feel really positive about my future,” Ms Ford said.

“I’m working on some great projects and proposals for the City and it’s fantastic to see what happens behind the scenes, but I am looking forward to getting back to the workplace when COVID restrictions ease.”

Ms Jones said while employers have traditionally been hesitant to employ people with disability, this is changing.

“We hear from local organisations that they are open to employing people with a disability, but the information and support hasn’t always been widely known.

“To address this, we have partnered with local disability service providers, the Australian Network on Disability and Be.Bendigo to produce a webinar for employers interested in unlocking the potential in an enthusiastic and capable, yet underrepresented workforce.”

The webinar, which is available from October 13, will feature Emma Hennington from the Australian Network on Disability who will present a business case for inclusive employment. Podcast producer Eliza Hull will introduce local employers who have recruited people with a disability and their employees and other local employers who have recruited people with disability will share their experiences. Local disability services will also discuss how they can help employers identify the right person and outline the financial incentives and support available.

To register for the webinar visit

https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/inclusive-employment-webinar-registration-122155944719 and for more tools and information on hiring a person with a disability visit www.inclusiveemployment.com.au

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