Perth woman, Bridie challenges stereotypes of employing people with disabilities

A series of seven short films, one including Bridie from Koongamia in the City of Swan, have been released to highlight what it’s like for those with disabilities who are navigating the world of work.  It’s told through the eyes of people with disabilities, their employers and frontline workers.
Bridie’s story is to be premiered on Wednesday 29th May at the Hoyts Cinema at the Carousel Shopping Centre. Bride Cole, who’s 46, has only 5% vision after losing the majority of her sight in her thirties when she suffered a stroke. Her story centres on building her confidence, which has opened up opportunities.
Travel into Bridies world and you will see that her disability has awakened and enhanced her sense of smell, touch and taste and what that means for her career. It’s a story of someone who hasn’t let her vision impairment stop her from securing employment.
Bridie completed a six week training course through VisAbility’s employment program where she learned interview techniques and other vital skills. She undertook voluntary work at the Swan Library Community Lifespan Care Services for seniors, where she ran the kitchen.  Now she works at Niro’s café in Carlisle.
“I don’t see vision impairment as a disability. I know I am capable and I love my job. Food is an escape, it relaxes me, it is something I like to do,” explains Bridie.
2.2 million Australians are of working-age, living with disability, yet are significantly under-represented in the workforce. Add to that, the unemployment rate for people with disability is increasing and the employment rate is almost half compared to those without disability. For people with profound or severe disability aged 15-64, the unemployment rate increased from 10.3% in 2012 to 13.7% in 2015 and labour force participation dropped from 31.3% to 25%.
The film has been produced by COACT, a leading provider of employment services for job seekers with disability together with VisAbility, which provides life-changing services to people living with disabilities.
They’ve collaborated to try to reverse this trend by engaging local communities in the ‘Change the Story ‘project. The goal is to help shift the thinking of individuals, employers and communities so that embracing differing levels of ability in the workplace becomes the norm.
COACT CEO, Matt Little, says “When we change the story as a society to focus on ability, choose inclusion and celebrate diversity, we open up a world of opportunity, not just in people’s lives but in the whole community.”
Carol Williams, VisAbility Program Manager says “It’s been wonderful to see this person blossom into something amazing”. 
“Statistics show that people who have disabilities and are employed, take less time off, are hard-working and are more heightened to health and safety issues.”
You are invited to watch Bridie’s story and interview her in person and speak to the manager/owner of Niro’s. Local employment consultants will be on hand to provide advice and information on Disability Employment Services.
Bridie’s film can be found here: