Disability Works Australia

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Alicja & Marion

Alicja & MarionIn October 2001, the Human Resource Manager for the Office of Employment and Youth, discussed with DWA an employment opportunity for a reception position for someone from the Disability Strategy with suitable skills.

The Office of Employment (OEY) is part of the Department of Further Education, Employment, Science and Technology. The OEY has a lead role in the development and implementation of employment policy, programs and initiatives in South Australia.

The reception hours were 8.00am to 5.30pm, undertaken by a full time employee leaving several hours of the day when other members of the staff would cover the position. This had proven to be unproductive and disruptive to other staff. Tina Zeleznik, CEO of DWA, and Disability Strategy considered the opportunity and the impact the position had on the Department.

Tina suggested that a job-share arrangement might be a good idea and ideal for some people with disabilities who are only able to work part time because of their disability. The first person could work from 8.00am to 1.00pm and the second person could start at 12.30 and finish at 5.30pm, giving each person 25 hours per week, employed under a contract (which is more cost effective than temporary employment).

Marion and Alicja were both referred to DWA for a position in the State Government by CRS Australia. DWA referred Alicja and Marion to OEY for interviews and not long after, they commenced work in their new position. They had both overcome many obstacles to reach their goals of employment. Assisted by the Rehabilitation Consultant from CRS Australia in resumé preparation, identifying their capabilities and organising any training required, they were referred to Disability Strategy for employment.

In November 1998, Marion felt that the "carpet had been pulled out from under her feet" after she was diagnosed with heart failure and cardiomyopathy (an enlarged heart). The specialists advised her that the condition would not get any better and that she could not return to work.

Marion's condition was treated by medication and plenty of rest as well as maintaining a healthy lifestyle. After almost three years her health had begun to improve and she was ready to consider employment again.

Alicja has a condition called Fybromyalgia, that causes fatigue as well as pain, and prevents her from physical exertion. Her previous job aggravated her condition further and eventually she was unable to continue working in a manufacturing environment. With assistance from CRS Australia, Alicja's rehab program included vocational preparation, computer training, interview techniques and a Call Centre Course.

"The job is absolutely perfect for me and complies with my medical guidelines," Marion said. "I've got a new lease of life and really enjoy working with Alicja - we work well as a team."

Alicja said, "the job share with Marion is terrific. She has more skills in areas that I don't and it is great to ask her advice and have her support. I transferred into a completely different career due to my disability and this transition was easier by the job match DWA arranged."

Both Alicja and Marion have enjoyed the challenge of returning to work and say they will always be grateful for the encouragement and support that DWA, CRS and OEY have given them.

This creative business solution has many benefits - such as two people with a disability gaining employment and feeling they can contribute their skills and experience. There was no more disruption and more productivity from the other staff members, more cost effective for the Department and the position was filled by well-qualified employees.

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