Australia Post, Delivering Opportunities
Caroline Browne had been unemployed for seven months prior to pursuing a career with Australia Post. Not long after, she found herself riding one of the iconic Australia Post motorcycles.
Caroline lost her hearing at the age of three after a bout of Meningitis, however her positive attitude and determination would not let deafness affect her employment opportunities. So when the factory closed where Caroline had been employed for many years, she aligned herself with Nova Employment, a Disability Employment Network (DEN) provider offering a specialty service to help the Deaf and people with a hearing impairment into work.
With the support of case worker Cassandra Olsen from Nova Employment, Caroline identified a job opportunity within Australia Post which appealed to her, “a postal delivery motorcycle officer”. Having grown up with motorcycles on the Cook Islands, Caroline decided it would be fantastic to have a job where she could enjoy the outdoors – and fulfil her passion of riding!
Caroline applied online through Australia Post's website. Having declared her disability on the application form, support was offered at the outset to Caroline from four main areas: her (DEN) agency, Nova Employment; Disability Works Australia (DWA); and Australia Post's NSW/ACT Diversity and Centralised Recruitment Units.
Overseeing the recruitment of people with a disability for Australia Post NSW/ACT is Vanessa Cotton of their Diversity Unit. This Unit works in consultation with the job applicant, DWA, the DEN provider, and with the Recruitment Units to match people to vacant positions within the business.
Passionate about her involvement, Vanessa comments, “We are all individuals, with our own skill sets. When a person declares they have a disability, we take into consideration their personal situation with the aim to ensure they are not disadvantaged in any way throughout the application process, and once employed.”
Australia Post engages the services of DWA, primarily to provide an objective, independent assessment of an applicant's disability. Their report indicates whether the individual can fulfill the inherent requirements of the job, in addition to recommending appropriate adjustments and modifications to further accommodate the recruitment and job placement processes.
Cassandra from Nova accompanied Caroline to her meeting with DWA, interpreting throughout using Australian sign language (Auslan). As a consequence of receiving the report from DWA, Australia Post was well informed on Caroline's abilities and requirements from the outset.
Danica Vucic from the Australia Post Recruitment Unit explains, “Each person with a disability is very unique and we try to make adjustments where necessary to our assessment procedures to gauge a candidate's ability to perform the inherent requirements of the job.”
Caroline was then ready to continue through the ‘standard' recruitment process. This included a pre-placement medical assessment, a federal character clearance, reference checks, in addition to an assessment facilitated by Chandler McLeod. This assessment for delivery officer applicants focuses on numeracy, literacy, comprehension and behaviors.
Caroline was interviewed by Lakemba Delivery Centre Manager Adrian Jones, with Cassandra from Nova again signing Auslan for the meeting. Adrian remarked, “Interviewing Caroline was no hassle. She met all the selection criteria in her answers - and communication using an interpreter went without a hitch.”
With pre employment checks completed, Australia Post offered Caroline a fulltime postal delivery officer role at the Lakemba Delivery Centre. Vanessa advised her colleagues in the Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) Department, who then conducted an OHS review to determine if there were any additional safety requirements the Lakemba Centre needed to consider. Adjustments - including extra warning lights, and a mobile phone kept in the office dedicated to communicate via SMS with deaf posties on their round - were already in place as the Delivery Centre had been modified previously for another hearing impaired employee.
Before starting on the job, Caroline attended the three-day Australia Post Induction, run as a centralised course at their Leightonfield Facility. A component of the Induction involved practical training on how Caroline would sort her mail each morning on a sorting frame. Following on from the Induction Course, Caroline attended a two-day motorcycle training course. Cassandra signed for Caroline throughout the Induction and Motorcycle Courses.
Three weeks after applying online, Caroline started her first day at the Lakemba Delivery Centre. It was a big day for Caroline but the support did not stop here. Brad, a Postal Delivery Team Leader, was assigned as a mentor to Caroline. After a couple of days of providing on-the-job support, Cassandra felt comfortable that Caroline was ready for her first unaccompanied shift. Having developed a good rapport with the management at Lakemba, Cassandra ensured she maintained ongoing contact with Caroline, Brad and Adrian. Through the mentorship, Caroline and Brad have developed a great friendship. In fact, Adrian and Brad's fantastic encouragement meant it was not long before Caroline really felt a part of the Australia Post team.
For Caroline, working for Australia Post is like a dream come true. As Caroline states, “Riding the bike makes me feel free, I love the job, the team at Australia Post, and the good friendships I have made.”
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