WHAT do you do?
It is a question asked many times each day, without much thought given to those who are not easily able to find employment.
People today are defined by their jobs and careers – but what about those with disabilities for whom job hunting is challenging and uncertain? Where do they fit in?
For Joanne Nunn, mother of Daniel, a young man with a disability, these were questions she asked every day.
When leaving school, no employment door seemed to be open for Daniel.
Can your son feed himself and take his medication independently?
“These are just two of the many questions I was asked when I approached services that support people with a disability,” Ms Nunn said.
“I lost count of the phone calls and conversations I had the year before Daniel left school.
“No one was interested in finding a way to support him in a working life.’’
During a trip to Canada, Ms Nunn met Brenda, a woman with significant disabilities, much like Daniel, and yet Brenda was a home owner paying a mortgage, working and with close family and friends.
Ms Nunn wondered if that could happen in Canada, why could it not happen in WA.
She studied Inclusion Alberta and their methods and brought that learning home.
Ms Nunn worked with friends and family to set up a microboard (an unpaid support structure) and within five months of leaving school, Daniel was offered a paid job at Curtin University receiving the same hourly rate as any other person.
Now, in a first for WA, many other WA families, organisations and businesses have the opportunity to learn the powerful lessons from Canada.
This week, guest speakers Bruce Uditsky and Anne Hughson of Inclusion Alberta, packed out the Creating Real Employment Pathways seminar at Mandurah Offshore Fishing and Sailing Club to help answer the who, what, when, where, why and most importantly how of creating real and valued employment pathways for individuals with disability.
Over the past 20 years, Inclusion Alberta has helped more than 400 people with significant disabilities gain open employment, and live rich, valued lives and contribute to their communities.
The seminar was presented by the City of Mandurah, Inclusion WA, National Disability Services and Sotica.