Manawatu Standard, Palmerston North, Wednesday 28 April 2010
By Marika Hill
Barriers that Limit Achievement
Disabled young people are hindered by hurdles in education and employment, a report shows.
The report by CCS Disability Action and Workbridge said disabled students are twice as likely to leave school without a qualification as non-disabled people.
CCS Disability Action chief executive Viv Maidaborn said the disabled faced many barriers. “From an economic perspective, this doesn’t make sense. We are creating benefit dependency for hundreds of New Zealanders.”
The Government needed to identify and overcome barriers that limit disabled people’s achievements.
The report recommends an inclusive education policy and targets to increase the number of young disabled people achieving NCEA and gaining employment.
Workbridge chief executive Grant Cleland said many employers undervalued the contribution disabled people were capable of.
Disabled people with a tertiary qualification are employed at about the same rate as non-disabled Kiwis with no qualifications, he said.
“The biggest barrier is that many employers focus on disability, rather than seeing the potential and ability of disabled people.”
The report highlighted the need for a public awareness campaign to include disabled people in community life, Mr Cleland said.
Disabled Woman Faces Employment Issue
She is enthusiastic, bubbly, creative and jobless. Amanda Kelly, 22, born with spina bifida, a birth defect that means she is paralysed from the waist down.
After graduating from Freyberg High School last year, she has been desperate for work. From 30 job applications, Miss Kelly received a few interviews and no callbacks.
She said her disability has definitely stalled her job hunt. She has applied for roles in retail outlets, pet stores, and hairdressers.
Her mum, Sharyn Kelly, said if employers just gave her a chance they would realise she’s outgoing, compassionate, and helpful. “There are all those lazy buggers who don’t want to go to work, but Mandy would just love to.”
But her daughter contends with the fact many workplaces are not wheelchair-friendly. “When you go and see (employers), you can’t even wheel around, let alone get her working in there – it’s just impossible. It’s just the size of the shops.”
Miss Kelly volunteers at both CCS Disability Action, and Red Cross, once a week each, doing administration. However, travelling to the offices costs her $40 a week. “I like the jobs themselves, but it does add up, having to get there and back,” she said. Failing to find work is limiting her independence.
Once employed, she would like to live in a flat, while her mum wants to move to Australia to be with her partner. But those plans are on hold until Miss Kelly can support herself through a fulltime job.
She is no stranger to struggle, having graduated last year with NCEA level 1, after overcoming numerous obstacles. A shunt in her brain, that drains excess fluid, slows her motor neuron function. This makes writing from a board difficult.
She battled to get a reader and writer to help her studies, she said. “I ended up being able to do NCEA but it took me two years to do because of the fact they were mucking me around.” She was given a writer in year 11 after undergoing physiological testing.
At primary school she faced transport restrictions. “Any time there was a trip away or anything to do with sports they would just tell Mandy to go home for the day,” Mrs Kelly said.
“If you haven’t got the transport, you miss out.”