Opportunity allows Luke to shine at work

Wednesday 24 May, 2017

It’s always important to have an open mind when recruiting staff particularly when it comes to employing a person with a disability.

Just like all employees, people with disability bring a range of skills and abilities to the workplace. They can also strengthen your business by creating a more diverse, inclusive and stable workforce.

Luke Roxburgh’s story is a wonderful example of a win-win outcome for Luke and his employer Absolute Car Care.
Two years into Luke’s automotive apprenticeship, he was involved in a horrific accident when he was hit by a train. He was lucky to survive.  Despite multiple muscle, skin and bone grafts, his right arm and both his legs still cause him problems today. But the 26 year old was determined to get a job doing something he loved – fixing cars. He got the chance to complete his Automotive Mechanic (Light Vehicle) apprenticeship when a two week work experience program was organised with Absolute Car Care.
The owners Michael and Steve Georgas were so impressed with Luke’s work ethic and positive attitude they offered him an apprenticeship. Michael said, “Luke’s positive attitude, willingness to learn and open mind where the qualities we value because the work he will do on cars changes all the time thanks to technological advances”.
The Absolute Car Care team also supports Luke anyway they can, working with his strengths and putting in place many simple measures such as letting him sit rather than stand to take pressure off his legs.
According to the Department of Social Services people with disability have the skills, talents and abilities to work in all sorts of jobs and also hold a range of tertiary and trade qualifications. Some hold senior managerial positions, while others are employed in customer service, manual or technical jobs. Their research indicates the majority of employers who have hired someone with disability testify to the benefits of doing so.
Employing Luke has given Absolute Car Care a new appreciation about the benefits of employing a person with a disability:

  • Loyalty, reliability and a strong work ethic.
  • Lower rates of absenteeism.
  • Longer tenures which saves recruitment and training costs.
  • Positive effect on productivity and team morale.
  • Enhanced customer service by knowing how to communicate with customers with disability.
  • The ability to attract a broader talent pool of potential employees.

The reality is on average, employing people with disability does not cost any more than employing people without disability. However, many employers have not recruited or worked with staff with disability and are unsure how to go about it.


There are two major Australian Government funded employment services programs available to recruit people with disability. They are Disability Employment Services and jobactive. Both Australian Government services provide financial assistance for employers who hire a person with a disability:

  • The Employment Assistance Fund - reimburses employers for the cost of work-related modifications and services e.g. modifications to the physical work environment or work vehicles, AUSLAN interpreting, disability awareness training and communication devices.
  • Wage subsidies of $6,500 - covers the costs of paying wages in the first few months of employing a person with disability.
  • The Disabled Australian Apprentice Wage Support Program - a payment to employers who employ apprentices with disabilities.

So what advice is out there for employers to recruit a person with a disability? Most jobactive providers, have specialised Disability Employment Teams who can offer employers and staff:

  • Professional recruitment advice.
  • Job descriptions development.
  • Help with job design.
  • On the job training.
  • Ongoing support in the workplace.
  • Financial assistance with the cost of workplace adjustments through the Employment Assistance Fund.

The reality is anyone of us can suffer a horrific injury like Luke.  That’s why it’s important to educate employers to create more opportunities for people with disability in the job market. Key to this success is to treat everyone as an individual and explore how their previous work experience, talents and skills can be applied to your employment needs. If an opportunity turns into a job, mentoring and post-placement support is available to ensure your new employee is productive from day one and has workplace longevity.
The majority of people with disability are able to work and want to find a job. They simply need to be given the chance to show what they can do.

Sarina Russo

About the contributor:

Starting as a small typing school in 1979 with just nine students, the Sarina Russo Group is now Australia’s largest provider of employment and apprenticeship services operating in more than 200 global sites throughout Australia, the United Kingdom, India, Vietnam and China. Synonymous with the phrases ‘How to Get that Job’ and ‘See You at the Top’, Sarina’s philosophy is to constantly challenge the status quo, think differently, exceed expectations and deliver with speed and urgency. Website: www.sarinarusso.com

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