Melissa doesn’t see her disability as a barrier to employment anymore and she’d like other people and employers, to see it that way too.
The support she’s received from her employers and the team from APM Employment Services has transformed Melissa’s outlook.
"They've never seen me as a barrier. They've seen me as me, not somebody that's got a disability," she says.
"I would like future businesses to see that a disability is not a barrier."
Melissa has low lung capacity, a side effect of the autoimmune disorders she lives with and which sometimes causes her to experience shortness of breath and fatigue.
Melissa worked as a cleaner for many years, but she found working with some of the chemicals in cleaning products began to cause issues for her health.
Unable to continue in her role Melissa says she didn’t know how she could find a job that was right for her.
That’s when she came to APM Employment Services.
Read a full transcript of this video.
“They support me 100%. If they see that I need help, they're not afraid to help” - Melissa
A new start
APM employment consultant Lisa met Melissa at the start of her journey to get support and find an alternative job.
“Melissa was quite nervous, a little unsure, and wasn't exactly sure where she wanted to go,” Lisa says.
Melissa’s health condition meant she was eligible for support through the Disability Employment Services program delivered by APM.
“Lisa talked me through the process. She showed me all my options. She saw the potential in me. And she did amazing work,” Melissa says.
Lisa helped Melissa to access many resources and tools to support her search for a suitable job.
Including setting up a profile on APM’s Employable Me platform where she was able to access resources and learning modules to boost her confidence and employability.
“Employable Me was probably the best thing” Melissa said.
“It matched me with my experience and put a whole lot of jobs out there that were perfect for me - it was really easy to use.”
Melissa began looking for roles in hospitality and retail - it didn’t take long for her to come across an opening at the Hastings Club.
"She didn't know how to explain her ailments to an employer. All those scary things that make it a challenge,” says Lisa, who arranged a meeting with Melissa and Cameron, General Manager of the club.
Lisa even accompanied Melissa to the meeting for support.
“It builds the foundations for a really good culture” – Cameron
Cameron was impressed with Melissa, he saw she had health concerns, but saw how eager she was to get back into the workforce.
“For me, it's not just about the job, it's about being a part of the club,” Cameron says.
“She is very much part of the team now - she fits in really well”.
Melissa was determined to succeed, and it showed from the start.
"Every week she was setting a new challenge for herself, whether it be in her home or in the workplace,” Lisa says.
“She goes above and beyond. She takes the shift. She's here. She's present. She's working. She wants to be here. And she wants to learn."
To accommodate Melissa’s health issues, the club spaced out her work schedule, with shorter shifts to start, to ensure she was getting time to recover.
Melissa is now part of the Hastings Club kitchen staff team. An important and busy role in the popular venue.
To support their colleague, when a chemical needs to be used in the kitchen, employees let Melissa know so she can perform other tasks in other parts of the building.
“You've just got to be flexible,” says Cameron.
“You can sit there and say it's the too hard basket, but some of your best employees were probably the most challenging at the start."
“If you adapt to that, then they can continue, and it sort of builds the foundations for a really good culture within your employment."
“We've got to be the ones to be approachable and say, well, let's give it a go.”
"She is very much part of the team now, she fits in really well" - Cameron
Are you eligible for Disability Employment Services?
You can join APM for Disability Employment Services through Centrelink.
When you visit Centrelink, they carry out an employment assessment and if you're eligible, they will recommend you to a Disability Employment Services provider. Remember to ask to join APM so you get the best service when searching for employment.
To be eligible for Disability Employment Services, you must be:
- An Australian resident aged from at least 14 to pension age
- Receiving an income support payment, disability support pension, an NDIS participant or an eligible school leaver
- Able to work between eight to 30 hours per week (with support when required)
- Not studying full time (unless you’re an eligible school leaver)
- Not already working at or above your assessed work capacity
If you're already receiving an income support payment, you can also register with us directly.
If you’re with another provider, but would like to change to APM, contact us and our teams will be happy to speak to you.
When you visit Centrelink, they carry out an employment assessment and if you are eligible, they will recommend you to a Disability Employment Services provider.
Remember to ask to join APM so you get the best service when searching for employment.
If you’re with another Disability Employment Services provider, but would like to change to APM, contact us and our teams will be happy to speak to you.
Frequently asked questions
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