Graduates who are blind or have low vision have the opportunity to kickstart their careers thanks to Vision Australia’s Career Start program.
The 12-month program consists of nine months working within Vision Australia, in a department that bests suits the participant’s goals and qualifications.
Following that, participants then have the opportunity to experience a three-month placement with an external employer
Within the program, graduates obtain workplace skills, put their qualification into practice, and have the opportunity to build a network of professional contacts.
“It’s an opportunity to help bridge the gap between blind and low vision professionals and their sighted peers,” Ron Hooton, Vision Australia CEO, said.
“We know that people who are blind or have low vision in Australia face challenges to finding employment, and the Career Start program is one of the many ways we support our community to achieve their employment goals,” Ron said.
Joint research by Vision Australia, Canada’s CNIB and Blind Low Vision NZ revealed that just 24% of Australians who are blind or have low vision are in full-time employment – the lowest level across the three countries.
Separate research from Vision Australia has revealed that more than 50% of Australian employers had never even considered hiring a blind or low vision person, and that many hold unfounded fears about the productivity and safety of people who are blind or have low vision in the work place.
The Career Start program was established in 2015, with a cohort of blind or low vision graduates passing through the program each year, with many going onto find meaningful employment.
Along with being provided the opportunity to develop their skills in paid role, participants are supported by a professional mentor, an employment service consultant, and a buddy who has already completed the Career Start program.
In addition, participants are supported by a professional mentor, an Employment Service consultant, and a buddy who has already completed the Career Start program.
“It’s a fantastic program. I’m more confident in myself and with assistive technology,” Kristen Mirchevski, a 2022 Career Start graduate, said.