Ella with the Royal Commission’s Kate Eastman at the hearing

How to improve employment for people with intellectual disability

15 December 2020

Here are 7 ways to make work more inclusive for people with intellectual disability. They come from my experience of work.

By Ella Darling

I have always wanted to work.

I have had a number of different jobs. I have worked at a hairdresser, a discount store, a fast food outlet, a café, and a hotel restaurant. I have also been a cake decorator.

Finding work

Some of the jobs I applied for myself, some I got with support from a Disability Employment Provider (DEP).

Some DEPs were really good. The good ones were willing to take time to get to know me and put in the effort to help me.

Not many of the providers take the time to do this.

Some DEPs wanted me to work at an Australian Disability Enterprise (ADE) for $2.50 an hour. But I said no.

Good and bad jobs

I had mixed experiences in my jobs.

I really enjoyed the cake decorating. But the business closed down.

I have had some bad experiences with particular people who bullied me or did not let me do work which I knew I could do.

Some people made me feel silly when I asked for help and made fun of me. They gave me tasks that were too easy for me and were boring.

At the hotel job, we got tips from customers but the manager there would give all the tips to all the workers except for me.

Two years ago I got my dream job working with the Council for Intellectual Disability (CID) to help people with disability stand up for their rights.

I really like working at CID. I get paid for all my work at an equal rate to my fellow workers, which makes me feel valued.

I get to work on lots of interesting projects which is exciting.

I also get a lot of support from other people I work with if I need it.

How can we make work better for people with intellectual disability?

I think the following things should change to help more people with disability get jobs and keep jobs that they enjoy:

  1. Job ads and applications should be in Easy Read or use pictures.
  2. Information should be in Easy Read or pictures.
  3. People who are supposed to help you get a job should take time to get to know you so you can find a job you will like and be good at.
  4. Employers should have training and information days which are led by people with disability so employers can learn about how to work with people with disability and communicate with them.
  5. Employers and people at work should always treat everyone with respect instead of mocking someone.
  6. Employers should have policies and everything available in Easy Read so people know what their rights are and how to make a complaint.
  7. People should be supported and get training to help them build up their skills and learn new things so they can keep doing a good job.

Give people with intellectual disability a chance

I think everyone should have the opportunity to have a job.

Having a job makes people feel happier. Having your own money means you can make your own decisions and be more independent.

I really believe that people with disability can do anything. Employers just have to give them a go and a chance to show their skills.

This blog is from evidence Ella gave to the Disability Royal Commission hearing on Pathways and barriers to open employment for people with disability.

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