DISABILITY INCLUSION AND ENTERPRISES

DISABILITY INCLUSION AND ENTERPRISES

Governments have, for a long time, largely given little more than lip-service to those with a disability, whether mental or physical. People with disabilities need and want to be involved in the community and to contribute positively, where possible.

There are those who cannot fend for themselves and those who are capable, to varying degrees, of working and giving back.

For those who cannot look after themselves we need benefits and support. This includes financial, physical and mental care and activities, amongst others.

For those capable of work, we must put in place facilities dedicated to helping them to be gainfully employed and trained. We must also help and encourage established businesses to employ and train the disabled in the workplace. Training for staff supporting the disabled is vital and essential so they can better understand and interact with each other effectively.

Of course there have been some positive initiatives taken towards improving the lives of those with debilitating disability, such as the National Disabilities Insurance Scheme (NDIS), but it is still the case that most depend on charities or volunteer care-givers (usually family members) for assistance.

“For those who cannot look after themselves we need benefits and support…For those capable of work, we must put in place facilities dedicated to helping them to be gainfully employed and trained”

                                                     No Difference disability workshop

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The NDIS, whilst a great initiative, is limited to support payments, carer services and some activities. There is no support or allowance for enterprises specifically formed to employ people with disabilities or training for people who work with the disabled. HOUSE WITH NO STEPS, for instance, runs such enterprises specifically set up for the disabled, but they are more the exception that the rule.

We need to see disability in a different way and instead of looking at it as a deficit, look for the positive influence that such people can have on our society and the positive effect that working has on their self-belief and confidence.

Only by accepting that disabled people are “different” not “defective”, will we recognise their true potential and help them to achieve it.

We must encourage and support those willing to give back to society through enterprises and projects that will grow our culture and employ people, especially those with disability. This can be financial support through loans, grants, tax breaks, etc. as well as volunteers and staff, possibly through such schemes as work-for the-dole, if practical and manageable.

There are five things we should be doing for able disability workers:

  • Support disability start-up enterprises with funding such as; interest-free or low-interest loans, government grants, sponsorships, donations etc.
  • Support existing enterprises to employ and train people with disabilities.
  • Support the training of staff who work with the disabled so they can understand, interact and work together effectively.
  • Support the training of disabled workers through schemes such as the Workplace English Language and Literacy (WELL) program, Foundation Skills Programs and the like.
  • Support work skills training for people with disabilities, on the job.

…and that’s just for starters.

Some training courses have already been undertaken but have either been discontinued or not rolled out sufficiently to support the majority.

Such things as Awards and recognition for achievement in disability enterprises would add to the promotion and support of such activities and training. The government and society should be open to any initiatives that help in this regard.

“Only by accepting that disabled people are “different” not “defective”, will we recognise their true potential and help them to achieve it” (RH)

My Blu Roo experience: You will see a photo above of the Blue Roo Theatre coy. I was fortunate to attend their production of the Bullimba Opera. What an eye opening experience. The support that the cast and crew gave to one another was heartening and humbling. In one instance a wheelchair bound young man who was barely capable of movement was seen to dribble some saliva on a regular basis. In the middle of the production a fellow cast member would quietly and gently attend to him by wiping his mouth with a tissue. The care and compassion was beautiful to watch….and all this was in the middle of the production.

Following the production I was able to mingle with the cast and the pride that they felt for their efforts was overwhelming. It was very touching for all involved, including me.

Blue Roo Theatre Co. (Bulimba Opera)

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We must support those who can’t support themselves through funding for such activities. These types of productions give them pride and purpose and help to enhance their lives.

Having been in stage performances and musicals, I know the hard work that goes in and the teamwork involved. We might normally rehearse and prepare for 3 months, part-time, for a production but the disabled can take 12 to 18 months to reach performance level. The “able” people who help and support these productions and cast are an amazing breed and should be congratulated for their efforts, caring and patience.

 

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