The Times Australia

The Times Australia

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The Times

Challenging Australian workplaces to be more accessible, starting from the top down

  • Written by The Times

While people with disability participate actively in all aspects of Australian life, they are more likely to face challenges than people without disability, such as poorer general health and higher levels of psychological distress1, and their rates of participation in various life areas are generally lower. In fact, people with disability continue to have lower rates of labour force participation and employment, and higher rates of unemployment, than people without disability1.

Concerningly, more than two in five working-age people with disability who have experienced discrimination in the previous 12 months report their employer as the most likely source (40%), followed by their work colleagues (35%)1.

However, there is hope for change. Embracing accessibility in the workplace not only supports a diverse pool of employees and customers but also fosters a positive workplace culture and demonstrates a commitment to workplace equality.

The annual CEO Wheelie Challenge seeks to spark a broader conversation on fostering more diverse, inclusive, and accessible workplace environments for people with disabilities.

Chief Operating Officer for Sporting Wheelies, Dane Cross, said the event calls upon inspirational leaders to evaluate their workplace’s accessibility and show support for people with disabilities.

“Participants will see first-hand how simple things like navigating through the office or accessing equipment can be a challenge for someone with a disability,” Mr Cross said.

As the step-parent of a child with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, for Kirsty Kelly, Chief Executive Officer at AITPM, signing up for the challenge last year was important to understand what it is like to navigate life with a disability that impacts mobility.

“Participating in the CEO Wheelie Challenge last year helped me to experience a bit of what life is like for Harry navigating on footpaths, through crowds, crossing streets, accessing buildings and travelling on buses,” Ms Kelly said.

“I am looking forward to this challenge again and will be aiming to travel on public transport further around the city, as well as attend events and meetings in the city in the wheelchair.”

By spending a day in a wheelchair, leaders will gain a new understanding of the challenges faced by people with disability in the workplace and help create a more inclusive workplace culture. In doing so, leaders can understand the importance of making changes to their workplace that will benefit everyone.

“We need inspirational CEOs to lead by example and show the communities they support the needs of people with disabilities. At the same time, accessing a talent pool that they may have never considered,” Mr Cross said.

Sporting Wheelies and parent organisation Spinal Life Australia are calling upon CEOs, executives, and leaders nationwide to register for the CEO Wheelie Challenge on 30 August to experience the daily challenges faced by wheelchair users.

To learn more about the CEO Wheelie Challenge and register to participate, please visit: https://www.sportingwheelies.org.au/ceochallenge/.

About Sporting Wheelies

Sporting Wheelies is a leading provider of opportunities for people with disability seeking to get involved in sports, recreation and rehabilitation therapy. They are committed to helping people with disability navigate the sport and recreation landscape, whether it be people interested in learning more about sport at a beginner level right through to helping more accomplished sports people to connect with development pathways. Sporting Wheelies became part of Spinal Life Australia in January 2024 and continues to enable all Queenslanders with a disability to live more active and healthier lives.

About Spinal Life Australia

For more than 60 years, Spinal Life Australia have been on a shared journey to empower people with a disability to live the life they choose and create a more accessible and equitable Australia for all. The organisation began when a group of people living with paraplegia and quadriplegia met and decided they would advocate, together, for what mattered most to them. Since then, Spinal Life has grown to offer a range of support services to help people with spinal cord damage and other physical disabilities, including polio survivors, at every stage of their lives.

About the Citations

  1. https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/health/disability/disability-ageing-and-carers-australia-summary-findings/latest-release

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