For many people with disability, part-time work is an opportunity to get their foot in the door and learn valuable skills to take into future employment. People with disability deserve the same opportunities as everyone by being exposed to all kinds of life experiences through employment.
For Jennea, being given an opportunity at the Department of Natural Resources is an important stepping stone in her career progression.
“I am currently doing my third year of an undergraduate degree in Social Work at James Cook University in Cairns and would like to work in the disability sector once I graduate,” says Jennea.
“I am very excited about joining the DNRME team and look forward to learning new skills and meeting new people in all areas of the department.”
Jennea is visually impaired and has Oculocutaneous Albinism (OA), a recessive genetic condition. OA is a group of rare inherited disorders that are characterised by a reduction or complete lack of melanin pigment in the skin, hair and eyes.
As part of this condition, Jennea has a nystagmus, which causes her eyes to move involuntary from side to side. She also has photophobia, where she has a sensitivity to light and must wear sunglasses outside at all-times.
“The easiest way to explain my condition without explaining the technical jargon is if you consider a very out of focus camera… that is what I see, it’s just extremely blurry for me,” says Jennea.
While Jennea uses a cane to get around from time to time, her main mobility aid is her guide dog Oliver.
“The main thing for people to remember with Oliver is when his harness is on, he is working and must not be distracted by being patted or interacted with. If he gets distracted he could put my safety at risk, and he may also think it’s time to play,” says Jennea.
“When Oliver is out of harness he is just like any other dog or puppy. But at work please ask me before patting him because Oliver still has to use his manners like we do, and there is a time and place for him to have a pat or play.”
We have ensured Jennea has the support she needs to succeed in her role, facilitating workplace modifications and providing Jennea with on-the-job support when she needs it.
In her role at the Department of Natural Resources Jennea job shares with Sonya, an employee with Down syndrome who has also found her role with our help. Jennea and Sonya work a minimum of 8 hours per week and have become valuable members of the team.
With her university degree and work experience, Jennea is well on her way to achieving her goals.
“I just want to say a big thank you to EPIC Assist in Cairns, for helping me get this wonderful opportunity.”