Deaf Children Australia applauds the Andrews’ Government’s commitment expressed through ‘Every Opportunity – Victorian economic participation plan for people with disability 2018-2020’. We acknowledge their foresight and determination to increase the social and economic inclusion of Victorians who face a range of barriers on their journey to employment.  As a deaf service provider, Deaf Children Australia (DCA) has been responding to the needs of deaf and hard of hearing children and young people since our inception in 1862 and we truly understand the many complex issues they face with securing employment. DCA’s mission is to inspire and empower deaf and hard of hearing children and young people to reach their full potential. DCA offers our full support for the development of policies to drive change to reduce the social and economic barriers for Victorians.

Twenty years ago, we recognised that young deaf and hard of hearing jobseekers were not meeting their potential and were struggling to build a pathway to meaningful work. We chose to expand our service delivery and created Sign For Work Employment with the remit to provide employment services to deaf and hard of hearing young people and adults.

During this 20 year journey, we have built a comprehensive knowledge and understanding of advocating for, and resolving the needs and challenges of highly disadvantaged jobseekers. We have just been awarded a further five year Disability Employment Service contract to deliver specialist services to jobseekers who are deaf, hard of hearing or dealing with mental health issues.

With the roll out of the NDIS, we are supporting deaf and hard of hearing school leavers to develop appropriate plans, which may include accessing the School Leavers Employment Support (SLES) program. Until SLES becomes available to everyone, DCA is funding an 18 month pilot program, Youth WAVE. This pilot has been specially designed to provide deaf and hard of hearing students with access to activities and information workshops so they can achieve their work or learning goals and includes:

  • Work experience – guidance and preparation for students in Year 9, 10 and 11
  • Volunteer work advice and linkages
  • Job skills training
  • Travel training
  • Referrals to jobs or training
  • Links to casual or part time work
  • Support to access School Based Apprenticeships and Traineeships (SBATs), or Traineeships or Apprenticeships

The Youth WAVE project team are now developing a handbook which provides information on planning your transition from school to work or further learning with topics such as:

  • What are the differences between SBAT’s, and other Traineeships and Apprenticeships?
  • How to prepare and gain great work experience
  • The value of volunteering
  • What are Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) and Group Training Organisations (GTOs)?
  • How the NDIS works

Deaf Children Australia is committed to providing deaf and hard of hearing jobseekers with options to secure a brighter future.  We will continue to advocate to shape the strategies which will underpin the policies needed to decrease barriers, and increase social and economic inclusion.

View ‘Every Opportunity – Victorian economic participation plan for people with disability 2018-2020’ on the State Disability Plan website.

Roz Keenan
Deaf Children Australia