It’s a stark reality: While almost one in five Australians has a disability*, the perception amongst the business community is far from reality when it comes to employing a disabled person.
However, Sunshine Coast-based employment and training organisation STEPS Employment Solutions has joined forces with the Kawana Waters Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KWCCI) this month to lead the charge in linking the region’s work-ready disabled population with local employers.
STEPS Group Executive Officer Stuart Coward said more than 100 local businesspeople were expected to attend a KWCCI breakfast on Wednesday, 25 June, which will see Paralympic champion Blake Cochrane and two local business owners that have benefited from employing disabled workers take to the stage.
“As a world record holder and gold medallist in the 100m breaststroke at the 2013 IPC Swimming World Championships, Blake is a telling example that a disability doesn’t have to hinder a person’s ability to succeed,” Mr Coward said.
“Blake will share his thoughts on what it takes to be a champion in whatever we do and how we can all reach our full potential, no matter what our circumstances are.”
Mr Cochrane will be joined by Pacific Motor Group Dealer Principal Craig McPherson and Rumba Resort Director Mark Hall, who have both employed STEPS jobseekers with great success in recent years.
Mr Coward said he was thrilled to have the duo share their experiences and highlight the benefits of welcoming disabled locals into the workplace.
“It’s great to have such well-respected business owners championing the cause and debunking some of the myths associated with disabilities,” Mr Coward said.
“One commonly held misconception is that disabled people lack the capabilities and skills to perform as well as their non-disabled counterparts within the workforce, which is very far from the truth.”
“Experience has shown many disabled workers not only accomplish assigned tasks competently, but also bring a strong sense of loyalty to the workplace in gratitude for being awarded a position when other employers may have turned them down.”
“We also find businesses face reduced staff turnover when taking on disabled workers as many of these employees are happy to remain in their position rather than using it as a stepping stone to something else.”
Kawana Waters Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Kerry Ricketts said he hoped the upcoming breakfast event would encourage local business owners and operators to consider hiring a disabled worker.
“The latest statistics from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show there are approximately 2.2 million Australians aged between 15 and 64 living with disability, so it’s important we recognise the myriad of skills this significant portion of the population possesses and welcome these workers to form a diverse and capable workforce,” Mr Ricketts said.
“We’re delighted to be working alongside STEPS this month and playing a role in facilitating employment for local workers.”
STEPS Group is a not-for-profit organisation that assists individuals in over 39 communities across Australia to access employment and training services that create positive change in their lives. The group also operates many community and business initiatives, including its newly launched workplace health and safety consultancy which helps local businesses ensure they meet the legislative requirements.
To find out more about STEPS Group, please visit www.stepsgroup.com.au. For further information about the KWCCI breakfast being held at the Brightwater Hotel on Wednesday, 25 June at 7.00am or to purchase tickets, go to www.kawanachamber.com.au. Tickets to this public event cost $33 for members and $38 for non-members, with an earlybird discount currently available.
Kawana Waters Chamber of Commerce and Industry business breakfast
Brightwater Hotel, Kawana
Wednesday 25th of June
Cost: Tickets to this public event cost $33 for members and $38 for non-members, with an earlybird discount currently available.
Brightwater Hotel, Mountain Creek
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