In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, Afford DES Team Leader, Layla Naji received a phone call from Marites Cruz. Marites met Layla at a community event. They got to talking about Afford’s Disability Employment Service (DES). Born in the Philippines, Marites’s training was in customs administration. After moving to Australia, she became the primary carer for her parents and her two sons (now 28 and 20). Marites also lives with schizophrenia and struggles with concentration. Marites had not worked for 10 years. But now, Marites was keen for a job. As soon as lockdown ended, Layla, and the DES team at Bankstown, found her one.

#1 Our approach looks at the individual’s goals

Every Afford DES client with has specific goals, skills, experience, and barriers to employment. Marites was looking to develop her confidence, to have time for family, to have social connection and a sense of purpose. “It’s crucial to build a trustful relationship and have an honest dialogue with our clients and the employer. This includes identifying the client’s needs and the support Afford will be providing to ensure sustainable employment,” said Layla.

#2 Understanding and support makes a difference

“We have a network of supportive employers who understand and support people with disability, and appreciate the post-placement support Afford provides to our client and their business,” said Layla. For Marites, the perfect fit was working with media and marketing company, Imbuity. Over four days, for two hours per day, Marites provides cleaning services – which has been a vital service due to COVID-19. She is supported by the Afford Bankstown DES and Imbuity teams.

#3 Successful placements involve give and take

Fouad is a Manager at Imbuity and says that Marites goes above and beyond in her role. Fouad considers Marites part of the family at work and she does too. “I am happy in my work – it gives me time for life,” said Marites. “On my first day at work, I couldn’t make the vacuum cleaner work, so they cleaned the vacuum cleaner for me and if I need time to care for my husband or for appointments, they understand.”

#4 Meaningful employment builds confidence and skills

“I had not worked for 10 years but Afford supports me to feel good about going to work,” Marites said. “And I do – I feel happy, I feel good about myself, I like to work with people and come to work.”

#5 We know that one size doesn’t fit all

The Afford DES team at Bankstown works primarily with local small businesses. The multilingual team are fluent in Arabic, Vietnamese, and English, and they connect with the diverse community in the region. “It is important to know the culture of the community you are working in when it comes to DES,” said Layla. She also says there is an opportunity for corporate Australia to scale up the channel of talent that DES provides, however, Layla pointed out that employers need to have flexibility and adaptability when hiring a person with disability, and that sustainable employment placement relies on being open to your DES partner providing training and support.

If you would like more information about Disability Employment Services at Afford call 1300 562 700.

This story is from the March 2023 edition of Afford News. Click here to read more.

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