Disability Awareness

Disability and Inclusion Case Study: Australia Post

According to the Australian Network on Disability, in 2009, just 54.3 per cent of people with a disability participated in the labour force compared to 83 per cent of people without a disability. This is despite the fact that more than 20 per cent of the population has a disability.

Australia Post has tackled the challenge of boosting disability inclusiveness head on and the statistics speak for themselves. As at June 2014, 6.9 percent of Australia Post’s total workforce had a disclosed disability and this compares strongly other Australian Public Service agencies which average out at 3 per cent.

A new disability awareness initiative launched recently by Australia Post aims to build inclusion in the workplace by taking a novel approach.

Inspired by employee Charlie McConnell, Australia Post has released a short film titled ‘Work Mate’ which aims to enhance and strengthen relationships and communication between employees with a disability and their colleagues.

Christine Corbett, Executive General Manager Postal Services at Australia Post, said the organisation was a leading employer of people with a disability.  “We want to break down stereotypes and encourage our employees to pursue fulfilling roles at Australia Post,” Ms Corbett said.

“This also means delivering Disability Awareness training to a workforce of over 32,000 people – many of whom are out on the road delivering letters and parcels each day.

“The new film, inspired by a real story, is a powerful medium that focuses on abilities rather than disabilities. We are looking forward to using the film to deliver training across the country and also hope that it will raise awareness and understanding of disability in the workplace in general.”

To develop the film, employees were encouraged to submit a real story of positive inclusion in the workplace.

The winning story was inspired by Charlie McConnell’s achievements. Charlie, who was described as a remarkable man by one of his colleagues at Australia Post, has faced more exciting challenges than most people would in a life time despite being blind. He has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, competed in ultra-marathons and walked the Kokoda Trail.  Charlie’s story was adapted for the ‘Work Mate’ film.

The film was produced by Bus Stop Film, a not-for-profit organisation offering people with a disability the opportunity to act in roles and be involved in professional filmmaking.

Work Mate premiered at an Australia Post event in Melbourne in July and has screened at their corporate offices in all of the larger states across the country to celebrate the launch. Australia Post has shared the film with employers, disability stakeholder groups and diversity practitioners at various conferences and forums over the past few months and is also reaching a wider audience through the International Film Festival circuit.

“The film is receiving such positive reviews from everyone who has seen it. I have had people come up to me after each screening to tell me how much the story has touched them and they can’t wait to share Work Mate with their colleagues, family and friends” says Diane Utatao, Work Mate Project Lead and National Diversity and Inclusion Business Partner for Australia Post.

The film is an integral part of the Australia Post Accessibility Action Plan which was launched in December 2012 and aims to build confidence and inclusion in the workplace.

Other stated goals and activities of the Accessibility Action Plan include:

  • Diversity awareness: Continue to build an inclusive culture by enhancing people’s level of disability awareness.
  • Talent sourcing and recruitment: Attract and recruit candidates from a diverse talent pool and improve the accessibility of the end-to-end recruitment process.
  • Learning and development: Ensure learning and development programs/activities are accessible to people with a disability.
  • Internal communications: Enhance internal communications to ensure they are accessible to all employees

The organisation has also partnered with accessibility experts such as Workfocus, National Disability Recruitment Co-ordinator (NDRC) and Australian (Employers) Network on Disability (AND) to help deliver the goals of the Accessibility Action Plan. Australia Post says there are a range of advantages to be gained from building a diverse workforce including access to a wider range of skills, views and ideas which promote greater employee engagement and innovation and a better understanding of customer needs. According to the Australian Network on Disability there are many other benefits to be gained from employing people with a disability including:

  • Being an Employer of Choice – attraction of employers through access to a broader talent pool as people with disability bring a diverse range of skills and abilities and new and valuable perspectives to the workplace.
  • Retention – retention of existing employees who have or acquire a disability as they age.
  • Shifting demographics – an ageing  population and increased incidence of disability not only impacts workforce but also means changing markets.
  • Increased use of technology – enhancing opportunities for people with disability.
  • Greater creativity, innovation and product development – understanding the needs of people with disability as a service provider is critical in retaining those customers.
  • Improved customer service and attraction – being disability confident, including how to  communicate with customers with disability, enhancing customer service.
  • Reputation & Brand – according to a University of Massachusetts survey, 92 per cent of the American public view companies that hire people with disabilities more favourably than those that do not; 87 per cent of the public also agree that they would prefer to give their business to companies that hire people with disabilities.
  • Procurement process & tender documents – increase in companies seeking information from suppliers on their employment and CSR programs and encouraging tenders from diverse suppliers.
  • Strengthening workplace morale and productivity through a more committed and diverse workplace.
  • Risk management – compliance with legislative requirements and meeting international standards reduces litigation risk.

Policies which support disabled employees in the workplace are a very effective way to attract and retain disabled staff members and help your organisation build a truly diverse workforce. Care Corporate’s Disability/Access Support Pack offers a range of resources designed to help disabled employees have a successful career in your organisation. Click here for more information.

For more information visit Australian Network on Disability The Real Stories Project



This Better Workplace Bulletin was first published in December 2014