Our people

Hard work and a sense of humour

Jobsupport staff

Rachel Harvey and Thomas Maxwell

The University employs two staff members with moderate intellectual disabilities with the assistance of Jobsupport, which is a government funded employment service.

For 14 years, staff and students of the Centre for English Teaching (CET) have benefited from the contribution of Administration Assistant Rachel Harvey. Rachel prepares course and orientation materials, and assists with various other office duties such as photocopying and data entry which are essential to the smooth functioning of the centre. One of the reasons Rachel enjoys her work at the University is that she is continuing a family tradition her mother - Judith Dickson - was an education lecturer at the University for many years. She says: “I like everything about my job and I like the people.”

Rachel’s manager, Stephen Howlett, CET’s Head of Administration, describes Rachel as “our bellwether”. “When Rachel walks in and smiles, we know it’s going to be a good day. She has stabilised us as team and as individuals she has broadened our horizons by increasing our understanding of the full spectrum of people in our society.”

The School of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, turned to Jobsupport in March last year when they identified what Alison Birt, Executive Officer, describes as “a very real need for assistance with tasks that regularly manage to fall off the priority list”. Administration Assistant Thomas Maxwell now supports the Head of School Executive team in a part time role that involves filing, photocopying, checking totals, matching receipts to corporate card expenditure statements, assisting with mail out and internal mail delivery.

Alison says: “Tom has added to the fabric of our workplace, his delightful personality and disposition, along with a wicked sense of humour, often stops us in our steps when we least expect. In a sense he provides the much needed social glue. He has added a lot to the school not only in terms of what he does, but also with his presence.”

There are many positives for organisations which have employees with disabilities, according to Maree Murray, Assistant Director, Staff and Student Equal Opportunity Unit.

Maree says: “When compared to people without a disability, people with disabilities can be more reliable and stay with an employer longer; take less sick leave and have less occupational health and safety incidents; have the same or better attendance and punctuality. Put simply, the employment of people with disabilities makes good business sense. The University is committed to the provision of equal employment opportunity and we hope to increase the proportions of staff with disabilities across the University.”

Jobsupport looks after the employment of over 500 people with an intellectual disability in jobs throughout the Sydney metropolitan area. The Jobsupport team works with the employer in identifying tasks that can be matched against the skill set of the Jobsupport client base. They then provide on the job training for the candidate, working beside them in the initial phases to ensure they understand the tasks and responsibilities associated with the specific workplace. Jobsupport continues to support the staff member and their manager for the duration of employment.

For more information visit the Jobsupport website or talk to SydneyRecruitment.