A helping hand

Kate Giles
Summary 
Some people with a disability may be scared of starting a new job. They may be worried they won't be able to work quickly. The Australian government helps people with a disability to start a new job. The government has a program called the Employment Assistance Fund. It provides free adaptive equipment such as telephones and screen readers to help a person do their job. You need to be working more than eight hours a week to receive any assistance. Anyone who works for themselves must work more than 20 hours a week.
Posted by: 
Kate Giles on 03/04/2012
A hand-held portable electronic magnifier.
portable electronic magnifier

The EAF may cover technology such as a portable electronic magnifier .

In Katrina Doolen's recent article on Divine, Knocked down and tired of getting up again she talks about the frustrations of finding paid employment when you have a disability.

I've also heard of other people with a disability who against all odds secure paid work. But rather than being excited, they become overwhelmed. They may fear they won't cope effectively with their new position.

Kim secured her position as an office administrator over 20 other applicants.

Kim explains, At first I was excited. Even though I am legally blind, it was decided I was the best person for the job. My confidence soared. But it was short lived. I began to doubt my own abilities. What if I couldn't work fast enough to do the work required? And then my fears began to multiply.

Employment Assistance Fund

While talking to a friend in a similar position, Kim found out about the Employment Assistance Fund (EAF). As it turned out, Kim was eligible for free adaptive equipment. This not only helped lessen her fear, but gave her more confidence in her own abilities.

The EAF is a federal government program to assist with the employment of people with disabilities.

This support is available to employers, workers and individuals. It also includes those who are self-employed.

Equipment and eligibility

The assistance offered through EAF includes adaptive equipment and modifications. Some examples are:

  • modification to delivery vans or other vehicles
  • adjustments to telephones and other communication devices
  • adaptive computer software
  • computer upgrades to help accommodate adaptive equipment
  • access ramps
  • workstation amendments.

Further funding for training in these new devices may also be available.

As with most grants, there are terms and conditions. If you are employed for more than eight hours a week, you could well be entitled to receive this assistance. In the case of self-employment, you do need to be working more than 20 hours a week. And in all situations, both the equipment and modifications must be directly connected to your job.

Benefits

Kim says her local blindness agency was a great help.

An appointment for a workplace assessment was made immediately. During this appraisal, all the things they thought of to make my work easier were included. Equipment I hadn't even considered was suggested. And then there was a lot of other stuff I didn't even know existed.

Kim goes on to say, Within three weeks my workstation, including my computer, had been totally transformed to suit my vision. And training was organised to help me learn the new software.

With a big smile Kim says, The Employment Assistance Fund has helped change my life.

Further information on the EAF and a copy of the guidelines can be made through JobAccess.

www.jobaccess.gov.au  freecall 1800 464 800

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