We know that one in five people in Australia live with some form of disability.
At AGL, we’re committed to building a safe and inclusive work environment for all our people – including those who identify as having a disability. That’s why earlier this year we launched our new Disability Action Plan, created in partnership with the Australian Network on Disability.
This plan is being led by Damien Nicks, Chief Financial Officer and Executive Sponsor of Disability, and our new Disability Working Group.
We also recently became the first Australian energy company to join The Valuable 500 – a global movement putting disability inclusion on the business leadership agenda.
Today is International Day of People with Disability (3 December), and to recognise this important day, two of our Disability Working Group members, Chris Nicholson-Doyle and Flora McGrath, shared their experiences of living with, and caring for people with a disability – and why creating equal opportunity is so important within the workplace, and society more broadly.
I have suffered from epilepsy since a young age, which has often been disruptive to my schooling, study, and work. People with epilepsy are also five times more likely to have depression, which I also live with.
For most of my professional life, I haven’t volunteered the fact that I am epileptic at work, for fear that I wouldn’t be considered for roles requiring leadership or responsibility. But over the years, my condition sometimes made itself known through seizures at work.
As awareness, education and understanding became more prominent, I gradually began to feel more comfortable in sharing my condition to my close colleagues and leaders here at AGL.
My brother, Sim, lives with aphasia (an impaired ability to speak) due to a stroke he suffered from when he was in his twenties. His excellent quality of life is owed to support from family, friends, and the broader community – who are aware of his disability, and take the time to be inclusive.
International Day of People with Disability means a lot to me, because it highlights the progress society is making towards raising awareness, being more inclusive and providing services and assistance to people like myself and my brother Sim.
It’s my hope that every person feels comfortable to discuss their disability in a safe and inclusive environment – while still having equal opportunity to progress and grow in the workplace.
Meet Flora and Sofia
My daughter, Sofia, was born with an upper limb difference, she has no fingers on her left hand and only half her palm developed.
My partner and I believe that if we focus on Sofia’s disability in a negative way, we will end up making life even more difficult for her. We feel it is our responsibility to empower Sofia to know that she can do anything she puts her mind to, even if that means she does things differently to others.
Sofia is a strong, enthusiastic, and caring human being who will add an enormous amount of value to any workplace when her time comes. I’m concerned that there are people in the community who will not be able to see past the disability, however, which will limit her ability to contribute.
International Day of People with Disability is an opportunity to increase awareness for people living with disability and their ability to contribute equally to our society; it is an opportunity to educate, promote empathy and increase support.
I hope to see genuine inclusion for people with disability, for example workplaces can begin self-audit practices to remove unintentional discriminative hiring practices and ensure they provide genuine equal opportunity.
In addition to this, it would be wonderful to see widespread commitment to inclusivity by employers in ensuring their workplaces and workstations are designed to allow people with disability to have an equal ability to contribute.
I feel that if people with disability had an equal opportunity to contribute to the workplace, they would not only bring their skills and qualifications to their role, but they could also leverage their different life experiences and promote diversity of thought.
This would enrich any workplace open-endedly.