New project boosts disability confidence and participation in Victoria

Thu 1 November 2018

Australian Network on Disability logo, Connect50 logo, 50 internships, four Victorian regions, talented students, inclusive employers,

The Australian Network on Disability (AND) has launched Connect50, a new project funded by Victorian Government. Connect50 will see businesses across regional Victoria offer paid internships to 50 university and TAFE students by 2020.

Connect50 is modelled on the enormous success of AND’s Stepping Into internships program, which has placed over 1000 tertiary students with disability into paid internships since its inception in 2005. It supports employers to develop inclusive workplaces that can open their doors to people with disability confidently and as part of a sustainable approach to inclusive employment.

‘Connect50 puts power in the hands of employers to progress the economic participation of people with disability and discover ways to build disability confidence and capability across their business,’ said Suzanne Colbert AM, CEO of the Australian Network on Disability.

AND will work closely with participating employers to understand their workplace and recruitment needs, help them eliminate potential barriers and guide them to effectively recruit and support candidates with disability.

Eligible students will be sourced by AND from regional Victorian universities and TAFEs, with a shortlist of recommended candidates delivered to employers for interview and selection. For students who are successful, a Connect50 internship is a chance to gain vital work experience, grow self-confidence and benefit from an enhanced pathway to employment.

The impact of Connect50 goes above and beyond the employers and students that participate in it. The project also facilitates valuable new linkages with TAFEs and universities and ensures a deeper understanding of employer needs and talent pipelines in regional Victoria.

‘Connect50 will not only open up new opportunities for employers and students in regional Victoria, it’ll create lasting possibilities. By partnering with employers to understand their goals, develop their capability and support their recruitment of interns with disability, we’re moulding a future where inclusive practices are ingrained in an organisation’s long-term business strategy,’ said Ms Colbert.

The project was launched as part of the Victorian Government’s Every opportunity: Victorian economic participation plan for people with disability 2018–20. Designed to drive systemic change through employer-led initiatives, Every Opportunity sets out 21 practical and sustainable actions to increase the economic participation of Victorians with disability. The state has also launched its first employment action plan, Getting to Work, which it described as a blueprint for creating safe, inclusive and respectful workplaces free from discrimination.

Visit the Connect50 website for more information about this exciting project and to get involved. Connect50 is open to organisations across Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong and Latrobe Valley, and students with disability in their penultimate or final year of study at university or TAFE.

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