Campaign calls for inclusivity


People living with disability are twice as likely to be unemployed than that of the general population.

Newcastle-based organisation Life Without Barriers wants this to change.

Its new campaign, Employment Without Barriers, is hoping to create employment opportunities for people living with disability and bring awareness to the barriers they can face.

“We’re breaking down the psychological barrier that people have around people with disabilities,” Life Without Barriers Executive Lead Disability Engagement, Chris Chippendale, said.

“There is a perception that people with a disability are less competent and less able, when they can actually bring so much to the workplace.”

Graphic Designer Dom Freestone said an inclusive workplace made going to work so much easier.

At the age of 23, Mr Freestone was involved in a diving accident that broke his neck.

He now lives as a C5/6 quadriplegic.

Mr Freestone said it was very challenging to have his life to change in such a drastic way, adding it was a struggle to find himself again amidst learning how to operate with his new abilities.

He said the hardest thing was “being the guy in the wheelchair”.

“It’s easy to stay at home and watch Netflix but getting out and being social, going to parties or just out, you really have to push yourself out of your comfort zone.

“It’s a long journey, it didn’t happen overnight, you lose your self-worth and you go through that depression, it takes a little while to realise you can still contribute to the community,” he said.

After deciding to go back to university to study Visual Communication, Mr Freestone graduated first in his degree.

When applying for jobs, he was upfront about his disability and received few call backs.

While this could have been due to the nature of industry, he believed it probably had more to do with his disability.

Both Mr Freestone and Mr Chippendale advocate that workplaces need to open their mind to the potential of working with someone living with disability. 

“One in five Australians have some form of a disability,” Mr Chippendale said.

“Being disability-friendly can improve the business – it’s not just the right thing to do, it can bring so much to the workplace.”

Visit for more information about the campaign.

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