Tina Samuel

I currently work a mainstream job 5 days a week with my disability. Looking for a job I found it incredibly frustrating how underskilled DES/CES/Joblink etc were at this role. I was embarrassed for them. I found one agency that relates to my disability funded to provide employment assistance and support for my particular disability – MSCoact, who did not fall into that category. This agency was highly skilled. Ex Health Workers – Physio’s & OT’s – not just entry level admin people. Professionals who knew what leg pain, inability to walk and joint issues meant and had worked with people with disabilities on a therapeutic level. They are a godsend. They don’t work from a deficit base. They work from a strength base always and their focus is on individual programming to BUILD CAPACITY in each person to allow them to STAY at work. I have frequent pain issues and fatigue and regularly need time off. They have provided both a bandaid for the symptoms but also regularly intervention to help me build capacity to stay at work. I think having a health professional as a practice manager or whatever is essential. You cant just second Level 2’s from other public depts and put them in. It’s as bad as trying to find a gap to shove a person with a disability. I think employers also need to think through what it means to hire someone with a disability – i think most go to worst case scenario and they automatically shut down. They need to think more ‘paralympians’ and less ‘special school bus of yesteryear’. Finding a way to shortcut the forms and centralise information would be handy. Filling in forms and having doctors provide 11 years of medical records is a nightmare. Very offputting and probably why people just don’t continue. My amazing therapist/manager was able to research safety boot weights and recommend the lightest ones, find cooling vests and bands to allow me to stay at work on really hot days, find a chair that could provide the support i need for my back and legs. It’s been incredible. If I have to go back to a DES/Centrelink govt service I don’t know how I will cope. The MSCoAct model is fantastic. I am valued. My contribution to society is valued. They are there to make my ability to work easier – and they do.