Opening in 2018, Our Ruby Girl cafe in Como currently employs five people with disabilities and has sought to create an inclusive workplace environment to welcome more.
The owner of Our Ruby Girl Sarah Yates says she was inspired by her time as a psychologist to create employment opportunities for those with disabilities.
“My background has really helped me to train our employees, I know from a psychological background what they need in terms of modified working environments and how to give instructions that they’re going to understand,” she says.
According to the National Disability Insurance Scheme, around 4.3 million Australians live with a disability.
Of those, 2.1 million are at a working age and about half of that number are currently employed.
Under their ‘Participant Employment Strategy’, the NDIS aims to give people with disabilities the same opportunities to work as other Australians.
In the next five years the NDIS will provide more than $22 billion to an estimated 500,000 Australians.
Our Ruby Girl’a program has proved popular, with a waitlist of 30 people seeking employment.
The cafe had hoped to begin an industry training program this year at a second location named Ruby On Paget .
Ms Yates says the plans for the two year training program were unfortunately scrapped due to funding issues.
“It was incredibly difficult to make that model viable and we just couldn’t do it in the end,” she says.
“We had to close that location and we have moved the staff here to be a part of our normal program.”
Curtin University researcher Melissa Scott says sometimes people are uncertain about how they’re going to support someone with a disability in the workplace.
“They might be very willing to give it a shot but then when it actually comes down to it, they don’t know what strategies to put in place or how to modify the environment,” she says.
Dr Scott says she found employers didn’t know how to have conversations with their employees and often struggled communicating and assisting them.
“There is absolutely a need for governments to further help employers take on people with disabilities in the workplace.”