Canberra’s own start up, focused on providing services to the disabled, Enabled Employment has amassed a fantastic string of successes in the short space of time since the company’s inception last year. The company now lists a myriad of well-established employers who have subscribed to its services – the Australian Defence Force, the federal Department of Health and the ACT Department of Health are some of the large government organisations which have signed up so far. Not content to rest and simply enjoy these successes, the company continues to look for ways in which to help our disabled population and change employer’s preconceived notions. So aside from simply running a successful business with some sixteen hundred registered employee-clients and a large list of potential employers, the company has been amassing awards and partnering with similarly minded organisations.
Some of Enabled Employment’s most notable recent successes include: partnering with Project Starfish – a United States based company which aims to help the disabled find skills and employment internationally; winning the Your Shark Tank competition, part of the Shark Tank television show, broadcast on Network Ten; winning the Startup Hero award at the StartupSmart Awards in Melbourne and partnering with Solider On to provide opportunities and support to returning Defence Force personnel, who are transitioning back into civilian life. The company has found a niche in the employment sector, one which has been woefully underappreciated in the past. With some four million Australians reportedly dealing with some form of disability, the company’s logic in connecting the disabled to employers is implicit. Government agencies have in the past offered similar services to the disabled but the majority of these initiatives have failed to incorporate them holistically in gainful employment.
Enabled Employment success is illustrative of not only its strengths but the resources and support offered by the agglomeration of the Canberra start up scene. The company’s success also points to shifting societal views and opinions on both disability and disabled employment. Changes which the company makes manifest through allowing the disabled to find not only work which utilizes their skill sets, but flexible working arrangements. Enabled Employment’s extended reach now stretches internationally – through their partnership with Project Starfish and into stratas of Australian society which may have not usually engaged their services, through the Hand Up program, delivered in partnership with Solider On.
In partnering with Solider On, Enabled Employment is now one of the companies, business bodies and organisations involved in jointly delivering the Hand Up program. A program designed to help returning servicemen and women transition to civilian life and gain the necessary skills and support to advance their chosen careers. The list of others involved in the program includes: the Queensland Chamber of Commerce, the Australian Business Academy, Konekt and Frontier People.
The program was launched by the Honourable Tony Abbott MP, Prime Minister of Australia, early this month and is said to be the first program of its kind in Australia. In a speech given by the Defence Minister, Kevin Andrews, during the launch of the Hand Up program, the Minister distinguished between a hand up and a hand out. “… this is a hand up, not a hand out – and the employers who take on our returned servicemen and women – will be employing the best of our ADF – and will see the benefits in their own workplaces.” It is easy to imagine that returning service men and women would make ideal employees, what is hard to imagine or comprehend is the injuries, both physical and psychological which some service-men and women are left with. Such injuries in times past could have had a large effect on the physical, psychological and material welfare of our veterans, leaving them unable to pursue even basic manual labour positions. In the words of the Minister for Defence, our veterans have been “… tested under extreme conditions…” They are also, the Minister continued “… disciplined, devoted, loyal, trustworthy and hard working – and they have an attention to detail which will be an asset for any company that employs them.”
In helping to deliver the Hand Up program, Enabled Employment is helping veterans gain access to a program which offers: free diploma levels courses in graphic design, business administration, information technology, accounting and management, short courses in other subjects and opportunities to upskill through vocational skills assessments. Aside from educational opportunities, assistance with resumes and job interview preparation will be offered. These opportunities and assistance will be complimented by an employment portal which caters to veterans looking for flexible employment arrangements. The portal is now live over a joint Solider On and Enabled Employment website, which states that fifteen percent of profits will donated to Solider On.
Enabled Employments achievements have become increasingly noteworthy and impressive as they move to fully accommodate the disabled into the workforce, more so than many past attempts by other organisations. The company has found something odd, a brilliant business idea and a social cause rolled into one. Perhaps the fulcrum to enabling the disabled to live full and independent lives is simply accommodating them into flexible working arrangements, which could lead to acceptance, expected practices and the end of social boundaries. If it doesn’t make sense as a moral imperative, it definitely makes sense as a business plan.