Uniting program helps young people living with disabilities ace their 2024 Australian Open jobs.


February 6, 2024

Aiden, Leila, Nathan and Ramadan from Uniting Vic.Tas’ School Leaver Employment Support (SLES) program have had a fun fortnight working retail and hospitality jobs at 2024 Australian Open in Melbourne.

With support from Tennis Australia and Dylan Alcott’s the Field, which connects people with disabilities with organisations looking to hire, the teenagers all gained real-life customer service skills and experience during Australia’s biggest sporting tournament.

The SLES program provides young people living with disabilities with help and support on their pathway to employment including creating action plans for training, work and life skills, to prepare them for the workforce, helping them feel confident and positive about their future.

Aiden, Leila, Nathan and Ramadan were supported to write their job application and to prepare for their interviews.

Speaking after his first shift, Ramadan said: “I feel so good about working in the retail space. It’s really busy and my shift goes quickly, but I’m enjoying learning to use Point of Sale.”

Leila was also excited about her first taste of the workforce: “I was excited and nervous, but on that first day, I was really looking forward to my first real (work) shift.”

Uniting Vic.Tas Acting CEO Amy Padgham said it was exciting to see the young people thrive in their jobs.

“We know how important it is for young people living with a disability to not only find a job, but to keep that job,” Ms Padgham said.

“As well as providing a source of income, a job boosts a young person’s confidence and self-pride as well their independence.

“Only 53 per cent of people living with a disability in Australia are in the workforce compared to 84 per cent of people without a disability.

“Platforms such as the Field and opportunities like this which Tennis Australia are providing these young people help break down the barriers stopping people with disabilities from gaining and retaining meaningful employment.”

Co-founder of the Field, which is Australia’s first disability-driven job search platform and multiple Australian Grand Slam tennis champion, Dylan Alcott, said initiatives like this are critical for improving outcomes with people living with a disability.

Mr Alcott has simple words of advice for employers looking for employees and wanting to make a difference.

“Be inquisitive and lift your expectation of what you think candidates with a disability can do, because I promise you, it’s always more than you think,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ramadan has enjoyed his time in the retail space so much, he’s hoping to return in a similar role with the AO retail team next year.

Learn more about School Leaver Employment Support (SLES).

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