EVERYONE DESERVES OPPORTUNITY: Duanne Karle and Aaron Payne at The Weeping Mulberry.
EVERYONE DESERVES OPPORTUNITY: Duanne Karle and Aaron Payne at The Weeping Mulberry.

Disability is no job barrier in Warwick

RESIDENTS with a disability represent a significant ­business opportunity on the Southern Downs, according to data released by the Australian Network on Disability.

Employers who choose to diversify their workplaces can look forward to a number of benefits, including lower ­absenteeism, greater ­employee retention and improved community support.

Over 2500 people in the region have a registered disability and local businesses, such as the Weeping Mulberry, strongly support their ­inclusion in the workforce.

Owner Duanne Karle said his team, which includes two employees with disabilities, is stronger for their diversity.

“Everyone has their own strengths,” he said.

“We can teach each other new things.

“They don’t work for me, we work together — That’s my motto.”

Studies from AND show employees with disabilities help employers to understand what customers with a disability may need and give their businesses an edge over their competitors.

Mr Karle said he would ­encourage other businesses to expand their search to include all members of the community as his experience has been largely positive.

“They do the same things as everyone else can,” he said.

“I think it’s good to give everyone an opportunity to work, because they really want to work.”

The community response has been overwhelming, with many regulars recognising nursery assistant Aaron Payne

“When they see him they come up and congratulate him, they say how good it is to see him there,” Mr Karle said.

“In some ways it does bring more of the community into the shop.”

Mr Payne assists Mr Karle in the nursery, where he does odd jobs, waters the plants and learns about horticulture.

“He does his job really, really well and he’s so valuable to have look after everything while I’m away,” Mr Karle said.

“There’s really nothing to worry about so long as you understand their needs.

“Then we’re able to work together so it benefits everyone.

“It doesn’t matter whether it’s a major or a minor disability, (they) are quite capable of doing the same things as able-bodied people if you can give them a chance.”