A highly qualified and experienced graphic designer, illustrator and educator, Joe-Anne Kek-Pamenter’s drive to advocate for better workplace inclusion for people with disability stems from her experiences in the workplace and job hunting, which saw her apply for more than 75 jobs over two and a half years.
“Even though a lot of employers said I was a top candidate, they didn’t want to take a ‘risk’ because of my hearing,” Joe-Anne said, who lost her hearing at 16 years old.
An application to Griffith University and an interview with Dr Dinesh Palipana OAM and Professor Elizabeth Kendall has turned Joe-Anne’s career around, and as a result she is employed part-time in a role where she is helping more people with disabilities to advocate for greater inclusion.
“With the Hopkins Centre I am the Community Manager for The Dignity Project, which is an online portal where people with disability can come into a safe environment and talk about dignity associated with their disability.”
In addition to her work with The Dignity Project, Joe-Anne runs her own boutique design agency, JUSJO Creative. She also works for Menzies Health Institute Queensland, is a Board Member for Enabled.VIP and is involved with HabITec, a project that looks at how technology helps people with disability.
Technology has been important for Joe-Anne in improving her independence and inclusion in the workplace. She has used part of her NDIS funding to get the right equipment, starting with updating her hearing aids.
“The ones I had before were 10 years old, I didn’t hear very well with them. But these are really good. They hook up with Bluetooth, so they hook up with phone and my television, hearing loop at the airport, things like that. So that’s been really good to help my independence.
“If I have a meeting with one or two people, I’ve got a little microphone that can go in front of the other speakers and that feeds the audio into my hearing aids from the other side of the desk. That works really well.”
Looking ahead in her career, Joe-Anne wants to help others to have a more inclusive and accessible experience in the workplace.
“I think it starts with the job application. Giving people the opportunity to have an interview is important and offering them support through that interview.
“Make workplace modifications where required, as an example – my managers are happy for me to continue working from home, which is amazing as I have a technology set-up at home that works perfectly for me in terms of accessibility.
“Nothing has been too much trouble for my team. They have been nothing but helpful, supportive and respectful at all times.”
Joe-Anne received assistance to implement NDIS funding from Carers Queensland’s NDIS Local Area Coordination Partner in the Community Program for the Gold Coast region.
Carers Queensland can support you to find out more about the NDIS, to apply for funding and to help you get started with the NDIS.
If you have a disability but are not eligible for the NDIS, Carers Queensland can help you identify and link to options for support in your community.
To find out more about how the NDIS and Local Area Coordination program can work for you, contact Carers Queensland on 1300 999 636 or firstname.lastname@example.org