USEP2

Southern Cross University Launches Employability Program for Students with Disabilities

Innovation  

Universities are agents of transformation: they provide students with the necessary knowledge to create a more meaningful and successful future - one where they can realise their unique potential to achieve desired goals.

Often this transformation doesn’t fulfill itself upon graduation, which certainly is a milestone, but until our career finally gets off the ground. That’s when the dream becomes a reality.

Sometimes it’s easier said than done when it can be challenging to land a job fresh out of university. It’s a very competitive job market and a lot comes into play through the job selection process.

And while the attained qualification is essential, increasingly employers are placing greater emphasis on individual strengths like emotional intelligence, our capacity to problem solve and our interpersonal and communication skills.

Curiously it’s those same personal characteristics that can work against you and sometimes an employer’s assessment can be based on erroneous assumptions stemming from lack of information and prejudice. This may well be one of the reasons why students with disabilities in Australia are currently considerably less likely to find a job than able bodied students.

Challenging the Status Quo

As an agent of positive social change Southern Cross University is looking to challenge the status quo by introducing a program aimed to meet the specific needs of disabled students who are seeking employment. 

In a partnership facilitated by the region’s National Disability Coordination Officer, Emma Killick, Southern Cross University has joined forces with one of Australia’s leading providers of disability employment support, ON-Q Disability Services, to provide the much needed change of diminishing the employment gap for disabled students. As a result, the Careers and Employability department at Southern Cross University’s Gold Coast campus now works with the support of a dedicated and experienced ON-Q Employment Consultant to build stronger connections between the university and local employers in the region.

Leanne Baker, Manager of Careers and Employability at Southern Cross University, shares her enthusiasm about the program and its timely importance: “We are delighted to be one of the first five universities in Australia to implement this valuable program. Our partnership with ON-Q and the NDCO program pioneers support for students with a disability from the start of their second year, recognising the importance of proactively developing employability and career management skills early on in their studies.”        

Emma Killick shares the same perspective, echoing Ms. Baker’s enthusiasm: “This program is so important to help close the employment gap between graduates with a disability and those without. We want to ensure all students have the best chance of gaining employment after they finish their studies, including those living with a disability.”

Ms. Killick goes further and sends an enlightening and inspirational message of altruism to us all: “We know that research has proven that employing a person who lives with a disability is actually beneficial to an organisation. I really want to encourage all local employers to get behind the program and support our local graduates. I can’t wait for the day where we live in a world where this happens organically and everyone feels empowered to pursue their life dreams. I know that programs like this will drive that change.”

*Frankie Barcellos is a Brazilian student currently studying for his Masters in Communications at Bond University.

**Photo (L-R): Southern Cross University’s Leanne Baker, Coordination Officer Emma Killick and USEP Consultant Andrea Mooney