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Tips to find meaningful work and study

16 November, 2020

The Professionals with SCI Network (SCIP) met online to discuss tips on finding meaningful work and study. The conversations were complemented by a wide range of experiences, including people already in work, people who have retired, job seekers and people who are studying. The network was also joined by Ruth Stewart, Vocational Consultant at the Royal Talbot Rehabilitation Centre.

Here are some of their tips on job hunting:

  • Volunteering your time and skills benefits both the individual and the community. The right volunteer role can help you gain new skills, new connections, increase self-confidence, advance your career, and provide a sense of purpose.

  • Network, network, network – share experiences and gain valuable connections by joining community networks, talking to AQA mentors or employment mentors, and meeting new people including those working at your ideal workplace.

  • Contact the employer’s diversity inclusion team or HR to understand their access and inclusion policy, network, see if the role is appropriate for you, and if they will cater to your needs. This is not a time to ask for a job.

  • Resume writing – focus more on your experiences and skills than being a wheelchair user. Before you go for an interview, ask if they have wheelchair access. During your interview, talk about your needs and ways they can support you, for example although modifications are not always a workplace responsibility, workplaces can be funded for modified equipment.

  • Many organisations can help with resume writing and practicing interviews. One of them is at Work Australia, a disability employment service.

  • Job Access Australia is available to eligible job seekers with a disability, injury or health condition.  It is separate to NDIS and TAC funding.  Job Access Australia can pay for work modifications after an occupational therapy assessment. For example, they may pay for sliding doors in toilets, a hoist for farm work, or to install an accessible toilet. For extensive modifications, ask Job Access for solutions such as if workplaces can help pay for part of the equipment or alternative modifications.

  • Persist in working with your funding body, occupational therapist and physiotherapist on ways to manage daily work. For example, having two support workers to help you get ready for work or study, have a support worker assisting at work, or obtaining new continence products. Be clear of your needs, and hold funding bodies accountable for their responsibilities to you.

Glassouse

Glassouse

  • Assistive technology - There is a range of technology available to increase independence and support one in working more efficiently. Organisations such as OneStep Education Network, Quad Quip Solutions, Solve Disability, TadVic can help find the right technology for you. Examples of assistive technology used by members included:

- Dragon speech recognition technology to convert speech into text on the computer.

- GlassOuse or SmartNav to control a computer mouse and other devices using head movement and bite, puff or switches. There is also technology that tracks eye movement to control the mouse.

 

- Use voice to control the environment in the house using  Google Assistant, or voice to control Apple products that are operating on iOs 13+

- Lifts to transfer into tractors or drones to view farm.

- Quadstick is a mouth operated game controller that is directly compatible with computer or game consoles that use a joystick, mouse or keyboard (PS3, Android). It uses an external USB adapter for other consoles (XBox 360, XBox One, PS4).

  • It can be helpful to start part-time to build endurance. For example, work for 8 hours over 2 days, then add more hours as your endurance builds. Be mindful of your skin endurance too - do regular pressure relief when sitting for long periods.

  • Travellers Aid supports people to navigate public transport at Flinders Street Station, Southern Cross Station or Seymour Railway Station confidently. Their trained staff can support you to go to work, connect with other public transport services and attend appointments. You can also hire mobility equipment, use luggage storage, or drop in the centre to use their lounge and accessible bathrooms.

 Everyone acknowledged that returning to work or study can be a scary and new experience, however it is good to be out of one's comfort zone. It is important to remember that everyone has unique experiences to share, and there are ways to manage and reduce risks.

Tags: Events, SCIP