International Day of People with Disability: an EPIC year in review

Wednesday, 23 November 2022

International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD) is a United Nations observed day celebrated internationally on December 3. It aims to increase public awareness, understanding, and acceptance of people with disability and celebrate their achievements and contributions.

IDPwD is an opportunity for us to make positive changes to the lives of the 4.4 million Australians with disability.

Each year the UN announces a theme to observe for IDPwD. This year’s theme is Transformative solutions for inclusive development: the role of innovation in fuelling an accessible and equitable world.

To celebrate, EPIC Assist (EPIC) is highlighting some of the transformative journeys of our jobseekers, fuelled by accessible workplaces.

Each of these employers has made small changes to their recruitment process or workplace that have had a big impact in the lives of people with disability. Everyone has a right to an accessible and equitable world. Meet some of the workplaces making this possible.

Australian Spatial Analytics

Harrison siting in front of his desk at Australian Spatial Analytics. Louis standing behind him. Both are smiling at the camera
Harrison and Louis working at Australian Spatial Analytics.

Australian Spatial Analytics (ASA), a data analytics business that almost exclusively employs neurologically diverse people, is forging a new path for diversity and inclusion.

After recognising barriers candidates with autism face during recruitment, ASA created a more inclusive and accessible path to employment.

Samantha Garbutt, the Operations Manager of ASA, broke down their hiring process step by step.

  • ASA connects with a Disability Employment Services (DES) provider, like EPIC.
  • ASA looks for transferable skills and hobbies, such as gaming, that may signal an aptitude in technology.
  • ASA then provides a computer activity, which looks at things like focus and pattern recognition to garner an indication of whether the potential employee would enjoy the work.
  • The responses to an online questionnaire enable ASA to get to know candidates and confirm their genuine interest in working in a tech-focused role.
  • If candidates pass these stages, ASA provides questions for an interview 48 hours in advance.

Econolodge Park Lane: Ryan

EPIC helped Ryan prepare for and find his job at Park Lane, then supported him on-the-job to access workplace modifications.

Local Bundaberg resident, Ryan, knows first-hand how life can change in an instant.

Four days before Ryan’s 19th birthday, he experienced a stroke. The stroke left him with mild paralysis and limited use of his arm and leg.

Returning to work after any injury or health condition has its own set of challenges.

For Ryan, it was relearning how to use equipment and carry out everyday tasks that were effortless before his stroke.

For help on this journey, Ryan connected with Disability Employment Services (DES) provider EPIC for support from a specialist that understands the ins-and-outs of living and working with a disability.

EPIC Employment Consultant Liam put him forward for a general handyman role at EconoLodge Park Lane in Bundaberg and he hasn’t looked back.

Ryan’s duties at the motel include keeping the pool clean, garden maintenance, and general handyman work around the property.

Ryan’s paralysis means he is no longer able to operate pull starts on machinery or reach high places in the same way he used to. EPIC helped EconoLodge to access modified equipment to assist Ryan with his work, including the Genie lift which raises Ryan up onto the roof, and power tools with extra handles and a back strap to take the weight off his arm.

EPIC Ipswich games café: Lachlan

Lachlan is the local Dungeon Master, barista, and resident game wizard at EPIC Ipswich, a games café in the heart of town. Not surprisingly Lachlan’s journey to employment here started with a board game.  

“I was playing a game of Dungeons and Dragons with some of my friends, and they mentioned that they had heard there was a new game store opening up in Ipswich over the radio,” he said. 

“I phoned up the store and as the only person that tried to follow up with the company, they wanted an interview pretty much straight away and here I am.”  

Lachlan soon joined the team at the game’s café, but it wasn’t long before he had to step away to look after his health. 

“I ended up going to the hospital for a period. For whatever reason, the medication I was on just wasn’t working,” he said.

During his stay in the hospital, Lachlan’s medication was balanced, and he was finally given a formal diagnosis of autism.

Once Lachlan received this diagnosis, everything just fell into place and his employment journey got even more epic. He didn’t let his time off affect his work at the game’s café. As soon as he was able, Lachlan started working there again.

It was important to Trevor that EPIC Ipswich was always there to support Lachlan through his recovery. He’s proud of the inclusive and diverse business he has built, and the wellbeing of his staff and customers comes first. 

“Lachlan has had a long journey with us. We were supportive in the sense that we gave him as much time as he needed,” he said. 

“When he was in the right mindset again and was moving forward with his life, we told him if you want to re-join the team, we’d be very happy to create a new role for you.” 

Benny’s Café: Lorenzo and Janelle

Lachlan at EPIC Ipswich

Since connecting with EPIC, Jimmy has hired three people with a disability or mental health condition to work at Benny’s Cafe. He has big plans in the works to hire more people with disability and give them a chance to be part of an inclusive and supportive work environment. 

But it’s his first hire, Lorenzo, that really sticks out to him as the beginning of something new and exciting. 

“Lorenzo couldn’t speak; he is deaf. I thought it was going to be a challenge, but it was quite cool,” Jimmy said.  

“Lorenzo was all keen to run meals from the start. He’d tap me on the shoulder and go, let’s go. I used to follow him out at the start, but then I just left him,” Jimmy said. 

Lorenzo wasn’t going to let his disability stand in the way of communicating with customers. With a few simple adjustments, it was all a-go. 

“All the regulars used to chat with him and do sign language. He’d got out there and serve the regulars by just writing on paper, ‘how can I help you?’ 

“And that’s where it all started, and the regular customers were like, this is pretty cool.” 

When it came time for Lorenzo to move on to a new and exciting opportunity, Jimmy said it was “a no-brainer” to contact EPIC Assist again.  

“That is when we got Janelle,” he said. 

Through his own employment journey, Jimmy recalled what it is like to be thrown into the deep end of a new job and having to sink or swim.

This is something he refuses to do with his staff.

“I’m not that person that’s going to let the staff members drown,” he said.

“Janelle does freak out a bit. So, we’ve come to the agreement that she just taps us on the shoulder and just puts a hand up to go for five.

“I said to her, just go out for five. Yeah, go for walk, ’cause, that’s what I used to do when I was stressed.”

McDonald’s: Jaxon

Jaxon and his supervisor, Jaakin, at McDonald’s Coomera.

Finding a job can be a rigid process. Each application often has the same method of submitting your CV, completing an interview, offering referees, and then getting the job. Unfortunately, this process doesn’t allow for people with different communication styles to show their true potential.

Jaxon was struggling to get past the interview stage because of his speech impediment. He was very capable of each role, but employers wrongfully couldn’t look past his disability.

After not receiving the support he needed from other Disability Employment Services providers, Jaxon did a quick Google search and found EPIC.

In his first meeting at EPIC Helensvale, he met his Employment Consultant Jon, and they had an immediate connection.

To help Jaxon improve his confidence during interviews, the pair performed mock interviews and prepared suitable answers to questions that employers usually ask.

Jaxon’s next interview was with McDonald’s Coomera. Jon accompanied Jaxon to his interview and spoke to the Shift Manager to explain Jaxon’s condition and his barriers while emphasising that he was more than capable of the role. Jon then sat with Jaxon during his interview which made Jaxon feel a lot more comfortable and confident.

Jaxon and Jon were delighted when they found out he had landed the role.

“When I found out I got the job I was ecstatic and happy. This job enables me to be my normal self, and making money allows me to buy things I like and help my Nanna,” said Jaxon.

Are you ready to join the call for diversity and inclusion?

EPIC is proud to work alongside these fantastic businesses that prioritise transformative solutions for inclusive development and fuel an accessible and equitable world.

If your business is looking to incorporate more diverse hiring practices, contact EPIC Assist today.

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