Fifty tertiary students with disability living in regional Victoria are set to benefit from a new Government funded project, encouraging more diverse and inclusive workplaces.
The project Connect50, delivered by The Australian Network on Disability (AND), will see paid internships across Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong and Latrobe Valley offered to fifty university and TAFE students by 2020.
Connect50 is part of the State Government’s Every opportunity: Victoria’s economic participation plan for people with disability 2018-2020 and aims to increase the current statistic showing only 50 percent of tertiary graduates with disability go onto gain employment, compared to 76 percent of graduates without disability.
A Victorian Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson says Connect50 is part of the Victorian Government's approach to improving the work, study and business opportunities for Victorians with disability.
“Connect50 offers a great stepping stone to successful paid employment and career development for people with disability, particularly in regional areas.”
Chief Executive Officer of AND, Suzanne Colbert AM says the initiative will play a vital role in improving employment outcomes for people with disabilities, while encouraging more diverse and inclusive workplaces.
“Connect50 puts power in the hands of employers to progress the economic participation of people with disability and discover ways to build disability confidence and capability across their businesses,” she says.
“This project represents a unique opportunity, not only for the 50 students with disability who’ll gain an enhanced pathway to employment, but for employers to demonstrate their commitment to inclusion, tap into a pool of talented candidates with disability and realise the benefits of a more diverse workforce.”
AND knows firsthand the benefit of specialised initiatives in improving employment outcomes to people with disability, with the continual success of their Stepping Into program, a paid internship scheme matching talented university students with disability with roles in leading Australian businesses.
“We know from the enormous success of our Stepping Into internship program the many and sustainable benefits of a demand-led approach to employment of people with disability,” Ms Colbert says.
“The onus is on employers to seize this opportunity to cultivate a more diverse and inclusive workplace and actively contribute to a more inclusive Victorian economy.”
AND will work closely with each employer to identify their recruitment goals, ensure they have the right tools and guidance to effectively support interns with disability and help eliminate any potential barriers, with a shortlist of suitable candidates to be provided by AND to each employer.
Chief Executive Officer of Children and Young People with Disability, Stephanie Gotlib describes the current employment environment as “a tough gig” for young people.
“Young people with disability typically experience additional attitudinal, knowledge and accessibility barriers and it is not uncommon for young people with disability to have been denied the opportunity to complete work experience whilst at school or obtain part time work as teenagers.”
Ms Gotlib shares her support for the new initiative.
“It [Connect50] looks like a great way to assist with providing the young people the opportunity to develop confidence, obtain work experience, contribute and strengthen the workplaces involved, and assist with breaking down attitudinal barriers,” she says.
The internships will take place in season blocks, commencing summer 2018/19, winter 2019, summer 2019/20 and winter 2020.
For more information on the Connect50 project click here.