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Blind job seeker: 'they just can’t look past the disability'

JOB HUNT: Rachael Berka with her guide dog Xaviar is looking for work.
JOB HUNT: Rachael Berka with her guide dog Xaviar is looking for work. Vicki Wood

RACHAEL Berka has spent five years looking for a chance to prove herself capable in a job despite her blindness.

"I've had countless non-replies, even when I have interviews, no one's actually come and said 'no you're not suitable'," she said.

The 27-year-old has been totally blind since she was 16 from a disease called Familial Exudative Vitreo Retinography but still has her independence with her guide dog Xaviar.

"It's just finding a balance between something that I can do and something that's beneficial for the employer," she said.

There are a range of Australian Government incentives available to assist businesses including the Employment Assistance Fund that helps towards modifying the physical work environment for any special needs.

"With disabled employees businesses can get grants and government help. They can get help with equipment that we need so they're not forking out," Rachael said.

"For the employer, it's great but they just can't look past the disability."

The Caboolture resident has been looking for work since the store she used to clean in Lawnton closed five years ago and knows others going through a similar situation.

"Businesses need to be a bit more open minded instead of being so narrow minded," she said.

"Yes there are things we can't do but we have skills as well. Think about other things that we can do that may need doing in the work place, stuff that others don't want to do, I'll do it."

Member for Longman Wyatt Roy said finding more and better job prospects for people with a disability was a cultural shift.

"As someone who has previously worked as a participation assistant for a person with a disability, I know how difficult the important issue of employment can be," he said.

"Often people with a disability make the best employees because they appreciate having a job perhaps more than others."

Topics:  blind, disability, employment, wyatt roy


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