10 Years and counting

Kate has been employed at Coles for almost 10 years, which means she is about to take long service leave, much to the envy of many of her family and friends.  Notching up 10 years is quite incredible for a young woman under the age of 30!

Initially Kate was supported by a Disability Employment Service to learn her job and over time, this support was pared back. Kate now works independently and as her productivity is assessed annually, her wages change accordingly.  Thankfully for Kate this has meant that she is earning more as her productivity increases.

Soon after she started at Coles, Kate was asked to travel to Canberra to accept the Prime Minister’s Access Award on behalf of Coles for being such a positive employer.  The award was presented by the then Prime Minister, John Howard!

I asked Kate what the vision for her job was and she said that she would like to increase her hours and her responsibilities; currently Kate works for 4 hours, 5 days a week but she would like the job to become full time. Some of her responsibilities include tidying up the shelves to make them more presentable, restocking items, and returning out of place items to their correct place. She sometimes shows customers where an item is if they ask for her assistance. While Kate really enjoys these responsibilities she hopes that one day she can work on the checkout.

Coles has a policy of employing people with disabilities.  Darren, the manager of the store where Kate works, said he can think of nothing negative with employing people with disabilities.  In fact, Darren believes that people with disabilities bring countless positives like; being reliable, approachable, dependable, friendly and helpful to name a few.  Darren said customers often provide positive feedback about the assistance they receive from the employees and enjoy seeing people with disabilities working in the ‘real world’.

Apart from the everyday advantages, there are financial incentives for employers to employ people with disability.  These include the support wage scheme for employees who due to their particular disability may be unable to work at full capacity, the wage subsidy scheme and on-the job support from a Disability Employment Service who provide training and support to the person to maintain their job.

More and more of the bigger organizations are employing people with disabilities, including Bunnings and Target.  In the case of Bunning’s there is no overarching policy per se, but rather a case by case, store by store matter.  Have a look in your local area to see what big businesses are there that might be potential places of employment.