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Two selfies, one of a male smiling to the camera in an office, the other a women smiling at the camera with computers behind her

December 3 is the United Nations' International Day for People with Disability (IDPwD), which aims to celebrate and increase awareness, understanding, and acceptance of people with disability. 

This year’s theme is ‘Leadership and participation of persons with disabilities toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-COVID-19 world’. 

COVID-19 has brought about many changes - including how we work. At Development Victoria, we already had flexible working options available, but it wasn’t until the pandemic when we all had to work in a digital environment that this was truly appreciated. The COVID-19 pandemic showed us that work doesn’t necessarily need to be done in a certain way, or a certain place. It created greater flexibility which has benefited many different people.

For our Assistant Development Manager Paul Mariager, who is a C5-6 quadriplegic as a result of a BMX accident, COVID-19 allowed him to find a working routine that suited him.

‘Flexible working has been a game changer for me. As a C5-6 quadriplegic, my daily support needs are complex. The inflexibility of a standard 9-5 office prior to COVID-19 often either amplified my physical challenges, or caused me stress and anxiety about such.’ Said Paul Mariager

‘With flexible work, I am now able to plan my day so that it minimises my physical challenges. This has significantly reduced the level of stress and anxiety I experience. Knowing the focus is on getting my work done, rather than if it’s done from home, or in the office now (I enjoy both!), mean’s I’ve never been more able to do so.’

With more than 4 million Australian’s living with a disability, we understand it comes in all shapes – even some you can’t necessarily see. Autism is one of these invisible disabilities.

Autism is a psychosocial disability that presents differently for each person, and is something our Financial Controller, Kirsten Perrins is all too familiar with.

‘I look ‘normal’ and I’m physically able, so people assume that everything is fine when they meet me for the first time. However, I suffer with crippling social anxiety and a myriad of sensory issues that make day-to-day interaction with the world overwhelming and exhausting.' Said Kirsten Perrins

‘I have been working flexibly since joining Development Victoria four years ago so that I could attend weekly psychology sessions for a check in and ‘re-set’. For me, the pandemic was a sort of blessing – as with it came the ability to control when and how I work. – I can manage my work and energy levels throughout the day.’ Most importantly though, working at home allows me to control my physical work environment. I have natural lighting and can control all the smells and sounds around me which leads to significantly less emotional distress and sensory overwhelm!’

‘Development Victoria is the first employer not to ridicule or belittle my invisible disability and continues to give me the tools to be the best that I can be in my role. I’m proud to be part of an organisation that works so hard to be inclusive and creates a safe environment for people like me to flourish.’

As we move forward, we are focused on learning from people’s experiences and exploring what our new normal is. We are committed to continuing to offer greater flexibility to accommodate people’s needs –  especially those of people living with disabilities'

We want to make sure we have the right person for a job! And we want people to work in a way that is best for them. We recognise that we’re not always going to get it right, but we’re working hard to listen and learn from our people and meet their needs to be successful. 

Updated on 13 May 2024