Payge Hollis shares her experiences and the struggles she has overcome throughout her employment journey.
Finding a job is not an easy task for people with any type of disability. Let me tell you why.
Since leaving school in 2017, I wanted to get a job and I did get one as a cleaner, but it didn’t go for long as I hoped. It would have been over a year and then it ended just like that, nothing for me. Then I was employed as a barista, going around serving coffees. I stayed on the coffee cart for 2 years and I was enjoying it, that was until I got offered another job working in a family friends’ restaurant. It ended when COVID hit, so I was unemployed yet again.
It was difficult not finding work, but that did not stop me. I applied for many jobs when we could go out during COVID. I applied for more jobs near where I lived but that too was unsuccessful.
For a long time, I cried myself to sleep sometimes. Not only about not being employed but also, I was doubting myself and wishing I felt like if I did not have a disability and was “normal” then I would get a job. I felt lost.
I didn’t know what I would do but I knew I didn’t really think much into it at the time. But it did take a toll when it became more frequent. It feels like no-one really knows what it is like when employers read your resume and they spot that you do in fact have a disability. It’s that feeling of judgement that employers give us. It’s a look that says “We can’t do anything, we will always need support or when we go in for a trial for the day and we did our best, they still end up not calling or telling us we didn’t get the job. That is what breaks us.
Years later because of my mum’s social connections through Facebook, I was able to connect with a disability dance group called Sunshine Troupe. I went in to see what it was like and what they do. I really enjoyed it and decided to join straight away. And through that connection I was greeted by the co-coordinator for Loud and Clear. I didn’t know what it was and who the co-coordinator was, but she knew of me from when I was younger.
For a couple of weeks into attending Loud and Clear, there was an opportunity for two part-time jobs, which are both disability businesses. It was incredible. I did have my doubts though because of the past.
My mum heard of this and was thrilled. We both went in to see if they would accept me and they did. We both were grateful since it took 8 years after leaving school to find the perfect jobs for me.
Two years past, and I’m still grateful for my jobs at Equity Works and P2P and my connections that got me here today. And it goes to say that ‘Everyone is Employable so don’t judge a book by its cover.
Being employed means meeting amazing co-workers who have become my friends. Working has taught me that I can handle situations with professionalism and courage. I am a lot more confident in myself, for example, public speaking was something that always scared me but due to my work I overcame this fear. I can now stand up in front of groups of people and speak with pride.
Having a job has impacted my life in a positive way, it has motivated my body and brain. I am now better at managing my time and my work jobs. I have gained more independence to get out in the community which increases my social capital and allows me to learn new skills. The bonus is that I also earn money which I can spend on the things I want and need.
With my newfound independence, confidence, motivation, skills, and social networks will inspire people with and without disabilities to be the best that they can be. I am now the best version of myself!
This is my favourite motto: ‘Never ignore somebody with disability, you don’t realise how much they can inspire you!’
View the video where Payge shares the struggles she has overcome throughout her employment journey and the importance she feels in the work she is doing now.
Payge is part of Loud and Clear and is the Parent 2 Parent representative for Queensland on the Our Voice Committee.