In a couple of weeks time I will be speaking at a graduation ceremony for approximately 80 young men and women who, through the NSW State Government’s Transition to Work Program, have made the move from trainee to taxpayer.
Why is that so special?
Well, it wasn’t so long ago that, in a similarly named program for students with disability I had a very different experience.
We were working together (this is me and a class of about 8 students) to gain practical life skills like meet and greet, ordering from shops, counting change and so on – the sort of stuff that the majority take for granted.
The program operated from a number of TAFE colleges and I decided to take the Penrith crew to get coffee from a local take-away (OK, yes, I am an addict and we were still learning good skills!).
It’s a short walk, or at least it was – I need to point out the shops changed hands several times since these experiences - across the road and maybe 100 metres. Henry St in Penrith is always fairly busy with quite a few pedestrians.
I am sorry to say that upon seeing me and my group more than 1 person crossed the road rather than come closer to us. Sadly, some folk found it confronting to meet people with disability and I think moved by either fear or embarrassment preferred avoidance.
A generation has passed and things have changed – we no longer fear people with disability and we have gone further than simple acceptance.
Employers are embracing people with disability for their contribution and skills. Not a day goes past without at least 1 enquiry from a business owner keen to talk about someone for their business.
These graduates can look forward to a bright future with people still prepared to cross the road – only difference is this time they are coming to hire them.
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