17/12/2009 - 00:00

Disabled employment a win-win

17/12/2009 - 00:00

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SOUTH West Printing and Publishing has joined a growing number of businesses to have found that employing disabled workers can bring substantial rewards.

Disabled employment a win-win

SOUTH West Printing and Publishing has joined a growing number of businesses to have found that employing disabled workers can bring substantial rewards.

The Bunbury-based printing company joined Mandurah Taxis as the business winners in the Disability Service Commission’s ‘Count Us In’ awards, announced this month.

Mandurah Taxis has worked to increase the number of wheelchair capable multi-purpose taxis (MPT) on the roads in the Peel region, as well as improving the service provided to disabled people by its conventional taxi fleet.

The company is the only operator of MPTs in the region, and this year was granted two additional MPT plates by the Department of Transport, bringing the size of its fleet to six.

Business manager Julie Murray told WA Business News that Mandurah’s elderly population and concentration of nursing homes and retirement villages, combined with its rapid growth and urban sprawl, meant the MPT service was fully utilised.

Ms Murray said the business also benefited from the state government’s decision to pay ‘lifting fees’ to regional taxi drivers for assisting wheelchair passengers, bringing fares in line with those received in the metro area.

This was crucial in enabling the business to attract enough MPT drivers.

Mandurah Taxis’ increased coverage has enabled some nursing homes in the area to do away with dedicated buses.

It has also implemented new booking systems, which are easier for people with sight, speech and/or hearing disabilities to use.

Another initiative by the company is a program with Mandurah Senior College to provide work experience opportunities in its car servicing section to students with learning and behavioural difficulties.

It also works with job providers to employ drivers whose disabilities prevent them from working in their previous occupations.

Ms Murray said the Count Us In award was a “great recognition of the drivers and the wonderful work they do”.

SW Printing was recognised for its inclusive workplace practices, which led to the hiring of legally blind graphic designer Susan Wood, who works in the company’s production department, and Martin Dovey, who has high-functioning autism.

The firm worked with specialist employment provider Forrest Personnel, which assisted in modifying Ms Wood’s workstation and also advised other employees on ways to help integrate Ms Wood and Mr Dovey into the workplace.

The cost of these services is subsidised by government programs, making it easier for employers to go through the process of hiring disabled workers.

Mr Dovey works in the printing department and has completed a Certificate II in business while he has been with the company.

Ms Wood nominated SW Printing for the Barry MacKinnon award for employers of people with disabilities.

She said the nomination was “a way of repaying the faith they had in me”.

SW Printing general manager Geoff Beard told WA Business News both employees had been with the company for about two years, and both were integral and well-liked members of the workplace.

He said while Ms Wood and Mr Dovey were hired during a period of intense labour shortages in the South West, the positive outcomes stemming from their employment had removed any previous qualms the business may have had about taking-on people with disabilities.

 

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