Back to work I go

Peter Williams
Summary 
I got a spinal injury 19 years ago. I had to give up work. But over the last few years my health has improved. I want to go back to work. Working will give me confidence and purpose. It will also help pay the bills. I recently had an assessment with Centrelink. They put me onto a disability employment service. We talked about the job experience I have had. We also talked about the courses I could take. An injury has now delayed my search for a job. But I am hopeful I will be back at work soon.
Posted by: 
Peter Williams on 05/07/2011
Stuart Minotti smiling as he works with a colleague at the ANZ bank
Stuart Minotti from ANZ

I feel well enough to work again

In 1992 I was struck down by an injury to my spine. It forced me to give up my job as a fitter and machinist. But recently my health has improved. I feel well enough to work again.

I obviously have some reservations about returning to work. I wonder whether I will be able to cope. I am also concerned about how I will get along with my co-workers. But I really want to work again. I feel I should give something back to the system that supported me. Having a job will also boost my self-esteem. It will help fill my piggy bank. And it will help me meet new people.

Sense of purpose

A job will give me a sense of purpose. I need a challenge to help me learn new skills. I also find staying active keeps me positive.

Because I had not worked for so long I had to do a job capacity assessment through Centerlink. The assessment examines:

  • If a person can work
  • How much work they can do
  • What type of work is suitable
  • How much help someone needs to find work.

Impact of disability

My assessor took into account the impact of my disability on my work. My leg was amputated below the knee. The assessor was understanding about issues that effect people with a disability. She also considered obstacles I might encounter when seeking a job and working day-to-day.

After my assessment I was referred to a disability employment service. This is an agency that supports people with a disability looking for work. You can be referred by Centerlink or register yourself at a local branch. You can also get a referral from your doctor, health worker or school.

Work history

At the first meeting with my disability employment service we talked about my work history. We also discussed the type of work I want to do. As I don't have any recent work history it was difficult to write a resume. My consultant helped me compile one. We resisted the temptation to exaggerate my prowess with phrases like "dynamic" and "resourceful". Instead we settled on realistic terms like "self-motivated" and "team-player".

We also talked about some courses I could take. Doing a course would give me the qualifications I might need to get a better job. In some circumstances disability support agencies can help with the cost of training.

Modest goals

My employment goals are currently modest. But I would love to work in the fitness industry one day. I will need to be fit and healthy before I lecture others about exercise. In the meantime I am happy to work in a less demanding job.

The road back to work has already been a rocky one. A large blister appeared on my knee after I walked too far on my prosthetic leg. I feel dejected as I wait for it to heal. But I am eager to continue the search for work. I know my spirits will lift when I am well. I remain confident that I can gain employment. I know I can be useful. I am sure my return to work will be a rewarding experience.

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