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ACT aims high with graduate program


The ACT Government has come close to meeting an ambitious recruitment target for graduates with a disability in the first year of a new program.

The recruitment net was cast wide as Disability Works Australia tried to ensure people with a disability filled half the available graduate positions on offer by the government.

A creditable 41 per cent was eventually achieved with seven out of 17 graduate recruits hired as a result of DWA's support. They came from South Australia , New South Wales and Victoria as well as the ACT.

Tracey Crump, senior HR project officer in the Chief Minister's department, said the government had set its target high and was pleased with the outcome.

“DWA was particularly helpful throughout the recruitment process, first in finding the right people and then in making sure the assessment of the candidates was fair,” Ms Crump said.

“Not only did they provide us with support, but they also assisted the recruits with their applications and made sure they had an equal opportunity to compete when applying for the positions.”

The recruits had a range of disabilities, several of them visual, and came from different educational backgrounds, including law, commerce, environmental sciences and communication.

Positions were awarded in various ACT Government departments including health, treasury and land development.

Ms Crump said it was the first time the government had been involved in such a program and was looking forward to working with DWA again.

DWA chief executive Tina Zeleznik said the ACT Government program was helping to break down the stereotype about people with a disability.

“Best of all, the ACT Government now has a diverse and motivated graduate pool.”


Penny finds a level playing field

Penny Thomas has experienced first hand the barriers that can be faced when being assessed during a recruitment program.

Born with a hearing impairment, Ms Thomas, 35, applied for a traineeship after leaving school and patiently waited for the examination to start. No-one bothered to inform her the signal had already been given and, as a result, she failed to finish on time.

Ms Thomas says its just one example of the extra challenges that people with a disability have to overcome.

“Far too often the difficulties faced by people with a disability are overlooked or not taken into consideration, which means they are not judged fairly on their ability to do the work,” she said.

“Fortunately this is changing and it's also becoming more socially acceptable to have a disability – in the past I haven't always told people.”

“Most organisations now try to minimize barriers for hearing impaired people, such as smaller examination rooms and face-to-face instructions.”

Ms Thomas' ambition to find a role in media and communications is now on track after winning a place in the ACT Government's graduate recruitment program.

Disability Works Australia worked with Ms Thomas and the ACT Government during the assessment process to ensure she was given an equal opportunity along with the other applicants.


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