By Rebekah Devlin
Charlotte Bailey, ACT Employment Ambassador for Down Syndrome Australia has used her meeting with the Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, and NDIS Minister, Bill Shorten, to push the case for better employment outcomes for all people living with disability.
What does employment bring to your life?
“Having a job makes me happy. It gives me purpose every day. I connect with people in the community and that makes me feel good. If I didn’t have a job, I would be sitting at home every day doing nothing and seeing no one going nowhere. That is not living and I would hate that. Having a job is the best thing in my life because I am out and about every day. That’s living!”
Why do you think it is important for people with disability to have a job?
“I think it is important for people who have disabilities to have a job because people with a disability want to feel like they are part of a community and that they are doing things like everyone else in the community. Plus we want money to spend on having a good life like everyone else in the community!”
What would you like to tell people about the talents of people with disabilities in the workforce?
“I would be sad, angry, frustrated and hurt if people thought I couldn’t do my job. I am a strong, capable, hardworking person who just happens to have Down syndrome. No big deal! I like people to see what I CAN achieve.”
What did you think about meeting the Prime Minister and Minister Shorten at the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Jobs and Skills Forum dinner?
“I think meeting the Prime Minister and Minister Shorten was very cool! Having dinner with them I would say that it made my night 10 times more amazing. They spoke to me nicely and didn’t speak to me like I was a baby, which was great and made me feel like the adult that I am. Working with Minister Shorten on Wednesday was amazing, and I hope we have been able to get the message across to them about employment and wages for people with disabilities, and how they should be fair for everyone.”
What do you want the Government to do for people with disability?
I think the government should be good advocates for people with intellectual disabilities and they should start first by employing people with intellectual disabilities in their offices and in government jobs. It is very hard for people with disabilities to get a job and the government could help by offering more opportunities for employment in their own departments. They can also help by getting more workers in the NDIS so that people with disabilities are not waiting for plans to be made or changed to help them.
They can also offer more training programs for people with disabilities so they can get ready for jobs. I did lots of training in a café to learn to make coffees before I got my first job. That helped me to get my job.
Do you think it’s fair that people with disability are paid less than other people?
I don’t think it’s fair that we are paid less than other people just because we have a disability. We should be paid what the award wage says, we should get paid for the work we do. Living on a pension and a low wage is not enough to be able to afford to live independently, so many people with disabilities can’t live without the help of family. We like to shop, and holiday and go out to shows just like everyone else. We can’t do those things if we are not earning enough money to pay bills and enjoy life. Don’t we deserve to enjoy our life like everyone else in the community? Yes, we do. I love my life and I like to spend money, so I need to work to be able to do that. Just like you do!
What do you think parents can do to help their children get a job?
Parents should talk to other parents about how to help their child get a job. My parents can help. They helped me write my resume and then helped me meet support services who helped me look for a job.