Under the heading of ‘shonks’, you’ll find recruiters, employment service providers, job trainers, disability employment agencies (DES) and ‘cut and paste’ resume writers. When I talk to clients with a disability, I tell them to go to specific agencies who I know are good. The story below is edited from ABC news.
When Gabrielle Trenbath finished her Master’s degree in Diplomacy, she went to an employment agency to help her find a career. The jobs offered to her were for the simplest of tasks such as stuffing envelopes.
Trenbath says the disability employment provider only saw her cerebral palsy, not her academic achievements and job skills.
“They thought that because I was disabled that I was on welfare, and they didn’t need to find me a job, that they could just take their time,” Trenbath said.
Australia’s youth unemployment rate had risen to 11.6 per cent in 2019, while it’s more than double that for young people with a disability at 25 per cent.
In 2018, the Australian Network on Disability reported that graduates with disabilities take 61.5 per cent longer to find full-time employment than their able-bodied counterparts.
On top of this, an Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report shows 31.9 per cent of people with disabilities experience employment discrimination. This treatment causes some people to avoid work altogether.
So instead of returning to government funded employment services, Trenbath used her own initiative to land her current role as a public servant.
Mary Sayers, CEO of the Children and Young People with Disabilities advocacy group, says experiences like Trenbath’s are common.
“Young people [with a disability] have high expectations of what they want to do with their future, but often the responses are categorised by really low expectations,” she said.
Trenbath says if she could give students with disability currently enrolled in university one piece of advice, it would be to “do as much as possible early on in your degree, talk to as many people as possible, and just get out there.”