By Nicole Willing
As we all know, work is the cornerstone of social inclusion. However, a 2018 Vision Australia survey showed that only 24 per cent of Australians who are blind or vision impaired were employed full-time, compared to nearly 60 per cent of Australians without a disability.
Blind Citizens Australia launched the Eye to the Future project in 2019, to change employer perceptions about hiring someone who is blind or vision impaired, and highlight the skills, knowledge and diversity they can bring to a workplace. The project was paused in early 2020 due to COVID-19.
BCA is very pleased to announce that the Eye to the Future project 2.0 was re-launched just before Christmas, which was made possible by a grant from the Department of Social Services Information, Linkages, and Capacity Building Grant Program. The project will run throughout 2022 in NSW, Queensland, Victoria, and Tasmania.
We have employed Nicole Willing as the Project Manager. Nicole will lead the Eye to the Future team over the next twelve months as they work with industry leaders and employers to promote the benefits of hiring people who are blind or vision impaired. The aims of the project are to reduce the stigma surrounding employing a person with disability, to create more disability confident businesses and to connect with students transitioning into the workforce who may benefit from being connected to employers, being mentored, or being assisted into internships.
The project has its own Eye to the Future website with a range of resources and information for employers and students who are blind or vision impaired. Over the coming months, we will build on these resources to include more information, fact sheets and videos to benefit businesses, students or anyone who is blind or vision impaired and interested in starting their own business.
We will be creating a paid Internship Program for high-school, TAFE, and university students transitioning into the workforce. The Internship Program will connect students to employers offering 6-month internships, and we will support the employer and intern through the recruitment process, provide guidance around accessibility and assistive technology options and will remain in contact with the employer and employee throughout the duration of the internship.
We are excited to announce that we have set a date for the Eye to the Future Symposium which will be a full-day conference for employers, recruiters, and human resources professionals.
This event will be held in Sydney on Monday, 15th August 2022. The Symposium will be live streamed, enabling businesses in other states to participate. More information on this event will be circulated in coming months.
For students transitioning into the workforce, we will be hosting Roundtables on a range of different topics later in the year. We will also be developing a Mentoring Program where experienced staff who are blind or vision impaired can mentor students moving into the workforce.
It will be an exciting year for Blind Citizens Australia and for the Eye to the Future team. If you are an employer interested in diversity and inclusion; a student interested in joining our Internship Program; or an experienced employee looking for a new job opportunity, we would love to hear from you.
If you have any questions or would just like to learn more about the Eye to the Future project, please contact Nicole Willing – Project Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1800 033 660.
If you’re on Facebook, you can follow the project on the Eye to the Future Facebook page.