Melanie* has worked in a NSW government agency for about 20 years, the last 8 as a senior manager.
She was born with a condition that means she has had a prosthetic leg since she was 4 years old. She sometimes uses crutches or a walking stick, and her prosthesis sometimes causes skin issues and pain.
Melanie says the work environment has always been generally accessible, in terms of ramps and so on. She has had many positive experiences with her colleagues and managers and few negative.
The main workplace adjustment Melanie needs is to work from home when required. She mentions how physically taxing everyday activities can be, and the pain and fatigue that people with disability often experience in addition to all the other stresses of working.
She says allowing staff to work from home on request, where possible, benefits organisations as well as individuals. It has certainly reduced the number of sick days she has needed to take. Since COVID, most people in her large team work from home part of each week.
When she is in the office, Melanie was allowed to select a special chair, have an office close to the kitchen, and access mobility parking. Accessible parking and access to Cabcharge and taxis are important to Melanie when she needs to travel for work.
As a manager herself, with staff who come to her with their own requests for workplace adjustments, Melanie has learned that it can be a real challenge to balance the needs of an individual with those of others in the team. “It’s always a juggle, and I feel for managers without the experience to manage the flow-on complexities”.
She sees both the manager and the person with disability as having a shared responsibility to try to work together to discuss options and help find solutions that work for all involved.
Melanie says she has chosen to communicate openly about her disability and her workplace needs, and has seen how this has helped others to question their assumptions about people with disability.
“People with disability have just as many skills as their non-disabled peers, we just have to create the conditions to let everyone thrive in the workplace.”
*Name has been changed to protect the privacy of the individual
For more workplace adjustment information, NSW Government managers and employees can visit the Public Service Commission website or contact their Diversity & Inclusion, Work, Health & Safety or HR teams. You may also wish to reach out to your Disability Employee Network (DEN).
If you have trouble accessing workplace adjustments or experience disability discrimination at work, please contact Anti-Discrimination NSW on 1800 670 812.
01 Dec 2023
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