Change the Story: Wrapping up our huge disability employment campaign

08 July 2019

Change the Story: Wrapping up our huge disability employment campaign

When CoAct and our Service Partners launched our nationwide storytelling project, Change the Story, we knew it would be special, but we truly didn’t estimate the reach or impact it would have.

Through eight short films, the project followed people across Australia who are changing the story around disability employment. It’s a look into what navigating the world of work means through the eyes of people with disability, employers and frontline workers. Change the Story came to life through an online film festival, as well as over 30 free cinema events across the country, all with the mission of breaking down the stereotypes of what ability means.

Why shine a light on disability employment?

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 percent in 2012 to 13.7 percent in 2015, and labour force participation dropped from 31.3 percent to 25 percent.[1]

Engaging local communities in the Change the Story project has been just one of the ways that CoAct and our Service Partners are working to reverse this trend. The goal of Change the Story has been to help shift thinking of individuals, employers and communities, so that embracing differing levels of ability in the workplace becomes the norm, not the exception.

Cinema events a success

We welcomed over 1300 guests to cinema events across the country to share our message of support and inclusion when it comes to disability employment. These events showcased the short films, provided information on Disability Employment Services for job seekers and employers, and treated guests to a free screening of a new-release feature film.

We also celebrated the stars of our eight short stories, with each of them given the celebrity treatment at the Change the Story event in their local community. CoAct kicked off Change the Story back in April on the Gold Coast. Guests were extremely moved by the short-films and felt an instant connection with the stars in the short films – Kelsey, Priya and John.

May was a busy month, with Change the Story events happening weekly across all different states. With the release of the monster movie, Avengers: ENDGAME, we ran numerous events showing this major blockbuster alongside our short-films. Kelsey, who featured in CoAct’s short film, was the star of the show at our Carlton Change the Story event.

A great representative for people who can succeed whilst living with disability, Kelsey confidently spoke to guests about her experience working alongside CoAct and answered guests’ questions to give them hope and a sense of confidence about navigating the world of work when you have disability.

Priya, who features in CHESS Connect’s short film, attended the event in Coffs Harbour and networked with other employers about her experience in hiring people with disability. John, star of Community Solutions/SkillsPlus film received a fantastic reception at the Gladstone event. The stars of the short films were also invited to numerous media opportunities across Australia to share their story and experience with the wider Australian audience.

Worklink customer Bernie, who has bipolar disorder, confidently shared her story on the radio alongside Matt Little, CEO of CoAct. Kelsey also attended numerous interviews and spoke about the empowerment she felt from the Change the Story campaign. Change the Story wrapped up in late June and ended on a high in Browns Plains, Queensland.

That’s a wrap!

Change the Story has proved to be a huge success for CoAct. Many job seekers and their families and friends were surprised to learn how much tailored support they would receive through CoAct’s Disability Employment Services. Employers and community partners also benefited from attending the events, learning about how CoAct Service Partners can work closely with them to support their needs also.

We’d like to thank all of CoAct’s Service Partners and frontline staff, as well as the wonderful participating cinemas and their staff members who made the cinema events possible. Most importantly, we’d like to thank the stars of our eight films – Bridie, Bernie, Billy, Caterina, John, Kelsey and Sammy – for so willingly sharing their stories so that we could open an important conversation about disability employment.

Want to find work? You’ve come to the right place

If you or someone you know is after tailored support navigating the world of work, CoAct and our expert Service Partners can help. Get in touch today to find out more about how our employment services can help you find the right job sooner.


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