Tag Archives: Employment

Employable Me AU – Food for thought


As a disabled woman (#identityfirst), I was eagerly awaiting the premiere of Employable Me AU. At first I was a bit sceptical; would it be a patronising wank-fest? Would possible employers be hailed as heroes for the charitable gesture of taking on a disabled employee? Could I watch it without vomiting or throwing something at the TV?

Then I remembered this was the ABC, not commercial television. They may be politically biased, but at least they recognise disability as a human condition. Phew!

I’ll admit, I hadn’t heard of this show until the Aussie version was advertised, but I imagined it to be the employment version of the BBc series The Undatables (which I loved by the way), and in a way, it was.

OK, so there was no vomiting, nor was there any urges to throw things at the TV, (fortunate, as I was watching it on my iPad and the TV was in the other room so I would have had to get up). There was however, many tears.

As I watched, I felt a tremendous sense of guilt at being employed by a great organisation and how much I have been able to advance my career. Further, I have been working here for almost 14 years so I felt a bit greedy. Sometimes even, I am astounded by how good I am at making things all about me. In my defence though. I also felt enormously grateful.

Anyway, long story short, I really liked it.

It actually took the time to highlight the fact that (not unlike everyone else), disabled employees can and do bring unique insights and talents to the work place, even one that is not a sheltered workshop. HOORAY!

If I do have one criticism though, it is that all the disabilities that were featured were all intellectual or neurological. There was no one whose disability was purely physical, i.e. someone who is blind, deaf, missing a limb or who has a mobility issue.

Yes, I could relate to the prejudices that the subjects faced as disabled job seekers, but not in the same way. Remember, not all disabilities are created equal.

At least two of these people had a job coach with them to help them secure a job and settle in, just as I did back when I started (much to my embarrassment). However, not one of them needed assistive technology ( such as a screen reader) as I do now.

This might seem insignificant, but in omitting this, they missed the chance to show employers how easy it is to procure/use things like this without disrupting anyone else’s productivity or adversely affecting the company’s profit margin. That goes for building/work station modification too.

This seems (in my experience) to be one of the biggest hesitations for employers taking on a disabled person as a new staff member.

Some one asked me the other day what the biggest challenge as a disabled person in the workplace is for me. The answer is trust. Because there is generally such a low expectation of disabled people in general, I find that often people are hesitant to trust me with important tasks, believing that said task would be far beyond my capabilities or comprehension. It isn’t, unless I say it is.

I found this a lot in the beginning, but thankfully, it happens less and less these days. I do get the odd person appear taken a back when they meet me in person after working with me by phone or email though. Again, this goes back to low expectation and I think this will stop with an influx of highly capable disabled employees (such as myself, LOL) being around.

Now all we need is to make the public realise that having the desire to work (even if you are disabled) is not inspirational, it is normal.




There is an “I” in Team

I always get angry at myself when I leave a shop or venue and feel flattered that whoever I was dealing with spoke directly to me. It annoys me that it happens so rarely that I feel as though the attendant in question deserves a medal of honour for their efforts. Even when in fact it really shouldn’t be an effort at all.

Even worse, if ever I have an encounter with a child where they don’t go tearing from the room at the sight of me, I feel the need to heartily congratulate the parents on a job well done and in some cases, adopt the child.

I get that it’s my issue and that only I can overcome it, but the fact is that there are very few situations, (other than those in my own apartment) where I don’t feel singled out as the weird-looking disabled one.

I can’t really write about it either. In a recent post, entitled “Please stop helping me without my permission. It really is a pain in the arse”, I wrote about why I have the right to be left to my own devices, and I was told I was just ungrateful.

It’s easy to say that. You’re not the one with the painful bruise on your backside!
This being said, I got a real shock on Monday during our team meeting. We were discussing possible venues to get together to celebrate Christmas when suddenly someone chimed in with “we’ve got to make sure it’s accessible for Nina.” For a second I didn’t even realise they were referring to me.

In the interests of full disclosure, I will admit that, at first, that was because I couldn’t really hear the conversation properly – thanks to the humidity I was having a “bad ear day”.

However, it was also because at that moment (despite being very aware that I was hearing impaired), I had somehow forgotten that disability and in particularly mobility were an issue for me. I don’t remember a time where this has happened before.

Later, when I was back at my desk, opening my daily can of Coke with a fork (that I keep in my desk drawer for just this purpose), it occurred to me that this is why I felt so “normal” here. Because I can do normal things my way and no one really cares.

To me, this is the actual meaning of inclusion.


Job Seeking for the Disabled 101

When I first started making noises about wanting to be a career woman I don’t think many people thought it would be a possibility (and I was far less disabled then than I am now).


I was told by those who humoured me, “You should go and work for the Government. They have to hire people with disabilities, it’s the law.” Or “I think there are special factories that will hire you.” This was not what I had in mind.  


I did get a job working for the state government and I loathed it.


Other people wondered why I felt the need to bother, “surely you’d qualify for a pension.” They’d tell me.



It has always been my intention to work, so in later high school I did many administration/computer courses and as much work experience as I could talk my way into.


My resume` looked good and I got a lot of interviews for office jobs but I never managed to snag one so I swallowed my pride and signed to a disability recruitment agency.


It worked and they quickly found me a job. But they insisted on not only coming to work with me but sitting right by my side all day long.


Apparently this is what they do for everyone as some people can’t work without them. This was not me.


I saw it as intrusive and embarrassing. It also meant that I had to work harder to get my colleagues to trust that I could do things. So we parted ways.


13 years on and I am still working for the same organisation in the private sector and loving it.


I am not in the same job though. I managed to move around and get positions in other areas through my own merit (that comes with confidence and experience), and at one stage  I had two directors fighting over me. That was nice.


Here are my favourite tips to help my fellow disabled jobseekers:  

1.      Be realistic: I am all for having a dream, but if you would like someone to pay you to do a job, it needs to be a job that you can actually do. For example, someone who is vision impaired would not make a very good air traffic controller and, if you can’t use your arms or legs then building and construction is probably not your forte either. That’s not to say that you should just do whatever. Just recognise your skills and limitations when choosing a career path.


2.   Be honest: you don’t have to discuss your disability with your potential employer if you do not think it is relevant. However, it might be a good idea to let them know of any possible hick ups that you might encounter. For example, are you likely to need a few extra days off? It is possible that this may limit your job opportunity, but on the other hand it may give your new employer a chance to plan ahead and will avoid awkward conversations later on.


3.   Your contribution has worth: I have heard of many people with a disability (myself included, who have been offered an unpaid work trial by an employer who liked them, but wasn’t sure if they were suitable. I always said no to this. If they want you to work for them then they can pay you! I wonder, does this happen in the able-bodied workforce too?


Note: I am not talking about actual work experience or doing a “prac,” in these cases you get something out of it too and you know where you stand.


4.   Take the help that is offered to you: there are recruitment agencies that specialise in finding jobs for people who have a disability. These can be helpful to get you a foot in the door. Beware though, if you decide you don’t need them any more they can be difficult to shake off.

When you find your dream job there are organisations such as Job Access (if you live in Western Australia) who can help you with overcoming accessibility issues, or in gaining aids such as screen readers if you need them, with little or no cost to your employer. This is done through grants though so conditions do apply.


5.   Have faith in yourself: Take it from me, everyone is in business to generate a profit. You got the job because the employer thinks you were the best candidate. You didn’t get the job as an act of charity so do your best and see where it takes you.



Working has given me a sense of purpose, given me a chance to learn new skills and grow as a person, provided me with an extra social outlet and given me the chance to be financially independent.


I hope that if it is what you want, having a job can do this for you too.


Good luck.



Fact or Fortune 3 Part 2: What the Psychic thinks now

Okay well she didn’t do so badly the last time. 50% is at least a pass, and they say third time is a charm. So I went to the psychic again. 

 At this visit (August 2016) I was in a much happier place than I was when I saw her last. I was healthier and finally in a relationship that made me truly happy.  I just left my job in pathology that I had held for 12 years and was due to commence my new position the following week.  I was also eagerly awaiting settlement of my new apartment and the date for which I can move in. Basically, I was one happy little ball of nervous but very excited energy!

 I bounced on in, clutching a photo of Damion and the cutting from the plant (the bay tree again) that she always asks for. It’s meant to be from a plant that means something special to me, and it has been instrumental in the creation of many a delicious meal over the years. But in truth, I really only chose it because it was the closest plant to the car.

 She ushered me in and sat me down before asking, ” So darling, what’s been going on in your life?” Ever the sceptic I simply replied, “You know, same old same old” and left it at that.  Far be it for me to steal her thunder.

 While she examined the cutting and the photo that I had brought with me, I randomly selected eight crystals from the bowl on the desk. For anyone who is interested, I always have to choose eight crystals because eight is half of 16 and 16 is my favourite number. 

 The first crystal was tiny, not even half as big as any of the others. Apparently this indicated that somebody I work with , that I admired, and who I trusted had made me feel small (not hard, I am 4 foot nine)  and this has caused me to feel “pushed out”. But as the second crystal was clear, the path was open for me to start anew at a job that I would enjoy more. I did need to be careful though, because the next three crystals were cloudy and indicated that I was too comfortable where I was and that now I was terrified of the change ahead. This was in fact true.

  Apparently I had put too high an expectation on myself and that I couldn’t go into the new job pretending that I knew it all. It is okay to ask questions and I can accept help if it is offered to me.  There is no harm in letting others do something nice for me if it makes them feel good (what? This is against all my programming). Further, if I did not do this I would create walls around me.

She looked at the cutting again and told me that she saw that I had recently bought a property. This was apparently a very good thing. The last three crystals were also clear but they were oddly shaped.  Meaning the move would be positive but that living here was just a stepping stone to something else. It would be something good though. 

 She asked me who it was in the photo and I told her that his name was Damion but unfortunately I cannot remember whether or not I identified him as my boyfriend. She then went on to describe him to a tee  and to tell me how gentlemanly he is. She told me that we shared a connection and that we could be quite happy together.  But that because we both had free will and “there is no such thing as a fortune teller” she didn’t know if he was “The one”.  For the record, I did not actually ask her that question.

 Before closing she told me that for once in my life I needed to stop and smell the roses. I needed to stop expecting something bad to be around every corner and to accept that sometimes life has good lesson to teach me as well. If I didn’t I would drive everything good away. I freely admit that I am now and have always been a pessimist. So I am trying to keep this advice in mind.

 But she wasn’t done…


“Who has a birthday coming up” she asked. Dad’s birthday was the week after the reading and that’s what  I told her. “Well” she said, “your Nonno wants you to wish him a happy birthday”  . This made me laugh. I don’t remember my Nonno ever being particularly chatty in life yet this is the third time he has popped in for a chat during a reading.  Perhaps he is just making up for lost time or maybe he’s a bit bored. Apparently the atmosphere in the afterlife is a bit dead (sorry I had to do it).


I’m pretty sure I have this psychic reading stuff out of my system now