“Don’t let hearing loss limit you”, was this year’s theme for World Hearing Day. Recently, National Hearing Awareness Week was celebrated in Australia, a good time to reflect upon creating an inclusive culture in both workplaces and the community.
In Australia, almost 4 million people have some form of hearing loss. This continues to grow as our population ages. Understanding hearing impairment and the people living with hearing loss is the first step to embracing this.
Leading Disability Employment Services provider atWork Australia work with people with disability, injury, illness and mental health condition looking for employment to find a job that is right for them. After all, the right person in the right job with the right employer encourages sustainable employment, and the ability to build a better life.
A great example of this is when Renae came to atWork Australia at a crossroads in her life. Born profoundly deaf, experiencing a barrier to employment, yet as a highly motivated person, she was ready and willing to work.
Renae’s passion for photography had seen her already establish her own newborn baby photography business, but she was struggling to get a consistent income. She knew she needed a regular income and wasn’t sure how to go about getting one.
Renae met with her atWork Australia Disability Employment Services Job Coach, Nicole, at the Wanneroo office and they quickly formed a connection. At their initial meetings, Renae was feeling down and had low confidence. She had a closed mind about the possibility of any employment opportunities, other from photography.
Determined to support Renae to get the most out of life and achieve her goals, Nicole knew that it was important for Renae to keep the photography business running but also gain additional income to support herself.
Each fortnight, Nicole and Renae would meet, discussing self-improvement, motivation tools, resume preparation, interview techniques and, of course, exploring possible employment options. Through consistent mentoring and coaching, it didn’t take Renae long to come out of her shell and she started to change her outlook on what the future may hold.
After a couple of months, and through several conversations with both Nicole and a close friend, Renae discovered that her personal experience caring for a close family member could lead to a new career. She decided to apply for positions as a personal carer.
Renae confidently put herself forward for a causal role as a personal carer at Multiple Sclerosis Western Australia, providing one-on-one support for people with Multiple Sclerosis. Renae was successful in gaining this meaningful role.
“Renae was able to take the things that we discussed on board and pushed herself right outside her comfort zone. She has a new role that she is really good at. What’s more, it is also a role that has increased her confidence and pride and allowed her to be defined by her abilities rather than her disability,” said Nicole.
atWork Australia, as a DES provider, support people with disability and their employers to access free adjustments and modifications through JobAccess. Renae’s Job Coach put her in contact with JobAccess, a service funded by the Australian Government that assists people with disability with workplace adjustments and modifications. Renae was provided with a special aid – a hearing adaptor for the phone. Nothing was going to stop Renae from being successful in her new role!
Renae has now been in this job role for over 18 months and is loving every single minute of it. The future is looking bright for Renae, with her newfound passion as a personal carer, as well as continuing to build her photography business.
“My Job Coach Nicole helped me immensely by helping me think outside the square in terms of my employable skills and abilities. With this assistance, it gave me the confidence I needed to apply for and secure a job in a field I never even thought was possible,” said Renae.