Des Ryan

Episode 5 November 27, 2020 00:24:20
Des Ryan
Choice and Control
Des Ryan

Nov 27 2020 | 00:24:20


Show Notes

In this episode we meet Des Ryan, a champion for access, inclusion and employment for people with disability and recently elected Chair of the Queenslanders with Disability Network.

Des is working on Community Solutions' Regional Advantage project.  The initiative is building employment opportunities for people with disability by working with employers to break down myths about workers with disability, show the many benefits staff with disability can bring a business, and celebrate great examples of inclusion in the workforce.

The project is supported by an NDIS Information, Linkages and Capacility Building (ILC) Economic Participation of People with Disability Grant.

Des is also the long-time organiser of Rockhampton's annual (COVID permitting) Accessible Pub Crawl, when a team of people with disability, community leaders and health and disability sector workers spend a night on the tiles for a practical test of the region's accessibility.

 If you have a story you think we should feature on Choice and Control, please contact our enquiries line on 1300 999 636, or email [email protected].

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:05 Choice and control a podcast, celebrating people with disability in this season, we're talking about access inclusion and the national disability insurance game. This podcast series is brought to you by carers Queensland and dis local area coordination partner in the community. Speaker 1 00:00:23 Good. I am Jody waitering today. We're talking to Dez Ryan recently elected chair of Queenslanders with disability network and a powerful advocate for employment for people with disability. He organizes the Rockhampton regions accessible pub crawl, which we're going to find out about a little later, and he's working on community solutions, regional advantage project, building employment options for people with disability, by working on the employers and shining a light on the economic benefits of an inclusive workforce. Speaker 2 00:00:53 The one stock thing that stood out at the time was that justice sticks of people with disabilities taking up employment, not so much taking up employment, but being able to gain employment is flat-lining as a change radically, if anything is not quite as good as it was way back. And I realized it's no good going back to the same old home it's does it doesn't work. People with disbelief have still got the same inclination to work as they always did. So the problem is with people with disabilities, wanting to get involved with work, the problem was the other parts of it. The employer is equally important and also you've got to have the funding, so the NDI is going to be there. So you've got, you've got two parts of the cock Avenue. You've got people with disabilities, it's still the same and not be different there. Matter of fact, they must be a lot better motivated in the way, because in these days with all the social changes that have happened, kids with disabilities and going to school for a lot longer, and they're going mainstreaming, they've got expectations. Speaker 1 00:01:57 And like you said, but the motivation is one thing, but there also has to actually be a job there and an employer willing to give you that job. Speaker 2 00:02:03 Yeah. So, and we don't celebrate employers who do that. And I thought a group of high level employers or people with high respect, a level of high respect in the business community who are out there and trying to motivate people could have some good effect, but that have to be people that people would listen to them. And because as part of the other search I did, I looked at the myths that they've been with plenty of inquiries into this problem. And there's a great of myths that are the disabilities of more prone to sickness so that they don't turn up for work. They're unreliable that they don't stay in the job for long because the real health they can achieve at work and that the cost of business modifications. Now, when we looked at that, all those were either reversed or the same as the ordinary employee with a disability. Speaker 2 00:03:03 The main thing that stood out, the really key improvement you get with people disabilities is that they don't roll over into other jobs frequently. Don't change jobs when they've got a job that frequently stay there. Well, I've been working in community solutions for 22 years. I'm the perfect example. You know, once you find a good meat, you know, it fits your lifestyle, you stay there and you feel valued and you enjoy the role. A lot of things have got to happen to make that really successful more often than not. That is the employee has got to get involved. He's got to possibly tailor a work role, set up the environment, immediate environment around the employees through that first part, which is the hardest part. It's not just for people with disabilities, it's all people we've had some keen interest from employers, but they're going to be switched on. Speaker 2 00:03:53 We're also working with other employer groups. We're working with the big hitters, like the university, the Rockend resource council, and trying to change their HR policies. And time will tell whether, whether it has an effect, but once you get an employer, he can frequently come back to us. You know, with looking for employees who have certain tasks that are regulated, that routine, there's a cohort of people in, in a general sense that will fit the bill. They'll turn up the work. They were routine job and keep turning up and keep doing the job that most people would find maybe mundane and too boring. And then don't turn up for work. Now they're all keen for the job they need that that money is more vital in their life. So this is happening, you know, that's starting to happen Speaker 3 00:04:46 As well as working with local employers to get more people with disability into the workforce. There's also an element of finding out where people are already hitting goals and celebrating their successes Speaker 2 00:04:57 Because I'd run into one of them at the nursing home. When I was, when I was visiting my mother, that this, I went in one day and this lady was there in the kitchen. And not only was she great with them with the clients, who've all got dementia. She had them all standing around the outside of the closed off area where she, whether she was washing it up, they were wiping up for this group of ladies. And it was like a social activity. And I just felt so great because mum was out there and enjoying herself and having a social activity about something that people do every day and their normal life wash and wipe up. And normally the staff there aren't like that, they don't have to involve the clients in what, so that what was just a mundane job was it was a really social activity for the people. Speaker 2 00:05:43 And they're all either standing around or a chat in some way. And she said, I just got a letter from mercy care today to say, I'll be made permanent. And I thought, this is fabulous at the time. The next day I was so pleased. I thought I'll really have to see how and tell him how great employee that got. And it's great that he's picked up someone who's so good at what she does. So I did, you know, it was, I believe that passing on recommendations about good performance is really important in life. You know, everyone needs a Pat on the back, there was a young girl in your Poon working at, um, childcare center. And she was just a star in that place, you know, with kids. And, and most people would think someone with an intellectual disability couldn't work with kids, but she had a certificate. She had done all that. And the kids just loved her, you know, and she was rolling up to work everyday with a smile on her face. She had a job and she loved her job. So we were blown away by some of the people that are really on the ground doing it. Speaker 1 00:06:48 And you think you mentioned when you were first setting this up, you looked at the, the myths about what would be the challenges employing a person with disability. Do you think making that one-on-one connection with the employers and explaining some of the truths there and starting to break down those, those misconceptions? Speaker 2 00:07:03 Well, we have, so, and we've, we've, we've managed to get, we've managed to get some funding to, so we created these videos of successful employers, so equally focused on the employee, but also the employer employer. And I mean, unless we make a star of the employer, it's going to be hard to make inroads with the other employees because we want to motivate the other employees saying, well, look around, I see this as a person. It's not just about making them feel good. It's about them realizing I can employ someone with a disability and make a dollar at the same time. And that's when David French to one of his presentation with them. It was very interesting that he said, you know, we're not a charity, even though he's motivated, you know, he himself, he wants, I had to make a dollar at one point. So this employee has gotta be successful. Speaker 2 00:07:57 And, and she is very successful for him, more, more successful than what he initially thought, you know? And, uh, as he said, he would make a permanent full-time, but she's very busy doing other things, you know, with horse riding for the disabled and doing this. And, but the military is available. He'll ever full time, month and full salary, full award wage. And that's, what's, that's what kangaroo beans are doing. They're offering full award wages for employees because they moved something like a million, uh, product lines a week out of there because they were on that. They've got nine sites, they've got this collection, collecting all these bottles of that. That's, it's growing into a massive business and they need people that turn up all the time and do a routine task to count this. And they've got, and they're willing to pay, you know, award wages. You you've been Speaker 1 00:08:56 Working with community solutions 20 years and change, what's your own employment history like this? Speaker 2 00:09:01 Well, I, I started there as their, um, it person and I did that for nearly 18 years, but then we amalgamated with community sluice because we were called CQ personal services. So we were a larger organization with eight sites and that all log into our NT servers at work. And I was doing it part-time because I had really good relationships with our providers, our suppliers, and I organized the work. So I, I could just, you know, monitor it and do that. Basically I can manage it through most of the work I did really was getting people to reboot their computer, reset the passwords. Speaker 1 00:09:46 And not Speaker 2 00:09:46 Only that stayed away from programs and with business applications that would crash the system, you know, the trouble is people expect it all to work. And with our NBN, I mean, that is probably the greater disaster, the NBN, because a really good NBN would have made a lot of these software applications work better. So then I moved, I was doing complaints for endeavor and CIT and community solutions. And I loved working for endeavor with their complaint system because they went, they were added at a very regimented level, which I respected and I learned a lot. And then there was another refocus of the business. So I stepped back during the complaints were community solutions. That's when this reason bandage I was doing for about a year and a half, I did a lot of desktop audit on all service providers, Australia wide, looking at the, what the implications of the NDIS was on the original sites, you know, where they implemented the NDIS in Melbourne first. Speaker 2 00:10:51 And then I went back and read the same thing again, after a year, all those new South Wales Queensland and wrote up the up the business, providing services, you get, you can see that what was happening with the NDIS businesses were coming and going some bit to sort of just completely moving away from the service they were providing before. Some businesses just amalgamated, like in Tasmania, uniting care, the Malcolm mania with United care Victoria in one fell swoop, they run a map. They created a massive business. Imagine that they did that up the East coast of Australia, that the options where things could be very fluid now, unless you, and if you didn't get your financials in order, you could quickly go out of business and lose a lot of money. So this was really key to making this work for our business too, and making it work. And it's it's. And I mean, to be honest, it wasn't a cost to us because I was only working 12 hours a week, you know, and I enjoyed it and who wouldn't go into a lot of meetings and lunches and dinners. It was a feel good job. Yeah. Speaker 1 00:12:08 Yeah. Getting into that it role in the first place. Was that challenging? Speaker 2 00:12:13 Well, it was, but I mean, I come from a level where I was at working, so it was so interesting. I started studying first because I used to play chess at the TAFE college. I realized it wasn't accessible. It was done wheelchair accessible cabs originally. So that was out. Once I become available, I decided to, I was, I was secretary of Capricorn restaurant care and needed to automate bailouts. So I wanted to learn some more about Microsoft office or something. So I started doing some programs and I was in the chess club with these guys who were vying with the same with CQ champions, that three of us all had the role one time, rather than when we were successful. One day I borrowed a book and one of my mates said to me, Oh, and it back to him in a few weeks. And he said, that is six months of that course. Speaker 2 00:13:10 So that, that encouraged me to just do it. So I enrolled at TAFE. And then within three years, I think four years doing a diploma of computing business computing, I would work comp assist computer solutions, rang me out of the blue to me. And I don't know who or how, but they heard that I was interested in doing X access programming with Microsoft access. They had an application that had someone working on a project, but he was out of his depth. So my first two jobs were for Dublin spree works as a consultant and they were, they were paid, but you know, the business that they were paying me and I was getting good money, incredibly good money. And I was, I knew, I just couldn't believe one day I was sitting on the, the, um, the floor of their dominance. And it was about 40 degrees in the shade and this, this furnace was going. Speaker 2 00:14:19 But what was most interesting to me was we, weren't talking about disability. We're talking about the layout of these screens, that they, they sell Springs all around the world and governments, and it's a massive business. And it was, it was sort of a massive moment for me to think, wow, here I am not talking about disability where it's work. You know, that's really important. And then I started, uh, I got a contract with not, not a contract. They tapped me on the shoulder, Aboriginal legal service in Brisbane, in Rockhampton. So I did a database for them and they graciously, let me keep the copyright because I sort of stipulated that too. But you know, it's only, you can push that so far. And so I kept the copyright. So I finished up selling that to 20th street, legal services around Queensland, every legal center. And I had fabulous life. One day I went to work and my boss, we had had a bit of a turn down and he was, he sat down and said, we gonna have a meeting. Yeah. We're asking everyone to take a cut in their hours. Oh, I was so glad because I just started up this big site with five sites. Oh, he was so relieved. I was taking the news so quick there easily though, but it was so good. I was in a more from my private job than mine. I'm a day job Speaker 3 00:15:41 Outside of the day job. Dez also organizes the accessible pub crawl. It's one of the towns like once a year, COVID permitting a group of people get together to suss out central Queensland's night life. It includes people with disability, people working in the disability and health sector and local community leaders. Just get a better feel for just how accessibility is working on the ground in practice. Speaker 2 00:16:05 Basically, I've done it so many times. I think that's the last one, but then people ring me. When are we doing the pub crawl? Because it's such a good night. So, so now I get everyone to put in $10, we choose up to four hotels. If I get enough people, there's enough money to have nibblies and all those hotels lined up prepaid for, and you mix the mix with a group of business people you mix with the group of nurses or doctors, or what we do is we pick the people and we say, you're blind. You've got to, you got to go up to the bar and order a drink is scarf. You're in a wheelchair. You've got to, you got to go try and go to the toilet report back, you know? And so when we get outside, we have these lists of tasks and what, some of the questions are things like, what are the staff like? Because the staff are really good. It's, it's really as important as accessibility. They will make it work. The staff is, but as much as they can. Yeah. Speaker 3 00:17:03 That attitude makes such a difference of funding. Can we make this work rather than Speaker 2 00:17:09 Yeah. Yeah. We've had some great experiences and doing that. And you mix, because I know I meet people with disabilities at times that I might mix with me forward. And sometimes it's, it's highly entertaining. I remember we had the femoral, men would come along and, um, and she stayed the whole night. Uh, one of that person got talking to her and he could talk the leg up a wooden horse, you know, and he was with her and I'm sure she was like, wow. You know, but after, after, after talking to him for about five minutes, she could see, she would really, really, really enjoyed herself and was taking part. And he was such a gregarious, irritating character. So it forces people to mix, you know? And, uh, I give Michelle Landry good credit because she stayed the whole night and, uh, and took part. And, you know, it's, it's, it gets people out of there. And, you know, out of their normal mode of operating socially, they get a bit of a idea of what we're trying to achieve, you know? Speaker 1 00:18:10 Oh, good. That you have a nice, fun social outing. No one feels threatened, but at the same time, all these business people and politicians, and decision-makers get to witness firsthand. Some of the challenges when a venue is, and et cetera, Speaker 2 00:18:24 Might be in a wheelchair, we might put them in a wheelchair. So you do this and you do that, you know, and we review it outside. And so at the end of the night, we've got a table of scores. So then I'm going back to the venue and say, look, you scored high on this. You scored on that or it some bad, or it's, it's not just that. It's also about the noise level. What we found when we did our first pub, we had a blind person with us. We taught the accessible and he was quite good. He wasn't happy at all. He said, I was like, I was sitting at home. He said, because I couldn't hear anyone. He couldn't see anyone. Of course might as well have been at home, talking to himself. He couldn't hear anyone. You know, that's a really key thing, you know? So you realize people have got to blend all those things together. Speaker 1 00:19:10 Cause there's, it's not just about the people who use wheelchairs. There's also visual impairment. Um, yeah. Sensory processing problems. There's such a wide scope of things that disability can, but how do you go with the venues to the venue? See you're coming in and being like, Oh no, are they up for it? Speaker 2 00:19:27 Well, I love it. 40 people come along buying drinks and that they buy their own drinks. Of course, one of the first punk boards we did, we had this blind guy come along here to go up and order a drink at the bar. So he had a white cane. So went up to the bar, whereas it watching him. And of course, when he was there at the bar, someone jumped in, in front of me, not realizing he is blind. And of course Jim thought it was someone from our group. Yeah. Having a bit of a dignity. So he got his white cane to be slopped this guy across the legs up. And I was just absolutely lost at the so funny. He didn't do it the bad way, you know, but as the guys looked at him like this guy's out of his tree. It was so hysterical at night, you know? And I realize because people wear scarves around their eyes, you know, it was obvious that there'll be, they weren't always safe. It was like it. Yeah. Speaker 1 00:20:24 The pub crawl itself in the feedback to the venues. They're seeing any changes. Speaker 2 00:20:28 Oh, I'm not sure, but they're all keen to hear. If we've got issues while they're in the business of making money and way to make money is attract the widest group of clients that you can. Speaker 1 00:20:40 That's true. Nobody deliberately wants to exclude people with disability. It's just, maybe they don't know how to, or they think it's going to be really expensive building molds. And they just don't know how to get started. Speaker 2 00:20:50 And I tell, we went to they, they had accessible tall, beautiful, accessible call it, unfortunately that stacked it up full of toiletries. You couldn't use it next year. We went back when he went there, the toilet was shut because someone blocked the toilet. So they'd just, they weren't able to get until they got there. Guys who would go to come on a maintenance contract to fix it, which would have been another month. Speaker 1 00:21:17 Are you joking? Me? Speaker 2 00:21:21 Some people you can't make them. You can't get through to them. Speaker 3 00:21:25 Most venues are interested to see what feedback I get from the accessible pub crawl. Dez says sometimes some places take a bit more work. And when that's the case, it's not just a matter of picking your battles, but picking your strategy. As Speaker 2 00:21:39 We noticed one particular hotel, then it was the worst. They didn't have an accessible tall on the ground floor. You'd have to catch a lift upstairs and you have to, and the rooms weren't that really accessible a bit of a step. And they're always going to put in a wheelchair. That's what told you, but they never ever did it. No, you could see that there was no, there was no management push for it because you know, seventy-five percent of most licenses are owned by other Woolworths and Coles. So I dug around and found the email of the chairman of Wesfarmers, who was the overarching body wrote to him and say, you know, as a person with disability, I find it terrible to see that this business has been it's associated with your company is providing possibly the worst accessibility in town. When it comes to the patrons. It's not good. You're associated with it because the best accessibility that we found in a pub in, in Rockhampton was, um, understand hotel, which is associated with your competitor. So that morning of the pub call, I got an email from the chairman of West farm to say, it will be done. It might take six months, but it will be done. Provide you hold off on the publicity. I said, absolutely. That's not our preferred option anyway, you know, Speaker 1 00:22:58 And that's interesting that strategy that rather than having a picket out the front toward an angry Lexus of the paper, you go to where the money is or where the sort of big decision makers are and sort of work strategically about the change. You want to see Speaker 2 00:23:13 Respect for their brand name and they don't want to lose that respect. There are other ways to skin a cat, you know, there's a need for the Eddy discrimination commission, but softly, softly, I feel fine as a good way to, yeah. Speaker 0 00:23:26 Thanks for joining us at choice and control a carers Queensland podcast. For more information about carers Queensland, the national disability insurance scheme, or the local area coordination program, please contact us [email protected]. Or you can catch up with us Facebook search for carers Queensland and dis. This podcast is a place for people with disability to share experiences, stories, and achievements. If you have a story you think we should know about, please contact us through the carers Queensland inquiries line at one 300 triple nine, six, three, six, or email CQ dot [email protected] until next time. Thanks for listening. Speaker 4 00:24:12 <inaudible>.

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