'Take a chance on me': Gladstone mum's job search worry
AFTER 12 months of looking for work a Gladstone woman is worried she is being discriminated against because of her heavy stutter.
Sherrie Neil, 41, moved to Cllinton a year ago and has been looking for work ever since.
The mother of three said she applied for four jobs on average per week and had received only two group interviews in the past year.
She said she had worked on and off in bars since age 18, spent two years employed at a pet shop, had driven taxis and worked various other odd jobs.
"When searching online for employment 99 per cent of job descriptions state for criteria (you) must have good or excellent communication skills, which as a stutterer puts you at a disadvantage," Ms Neil said
"If I apply and I'm honest and upfront I either don't hear from them or I get the generic 'thanks but no thanks' email ..."
"I do encounter a lot of discrimination when it comes to my speech."
Ms Neil said she approached Centrelink to receive help through Disability Employment Services but was told "stuttering is not a disability".
A Department of Social Services spokeswoman said a medium-to-heavy stutter may be considered a disability if it was "a permanent condition resulting in functional impairment affecting communication functions".
The spokeswoman said Centrelink referred jobseekers in Ms Neil's position for an Employment Service Assessment.
This determines if they presented evidence of a medical condition, disability or non-vocational barrier that significantly affected their ability to gain and retain employment.
Assessments are conducted by assessors employed by the department to determine the most appropriate employment service for a jobseeker. This may include Disability Employment Services.
Ms Neil said she was aware of the assessment but was not given the option to have one when she approached Centrelink.
She said she was determined to work hard if an opportunity came her way.
Ms Neil has also completed part of a diploma of nursing.
"Had it not been for my speech deteriorating like it was doing I would now be a qualified nurse," she said.
"For me getting a job is having someone taking a chance on me."
The National Stuttering Association said many stutters perform very effectively in jobs that deal with the public on a daily basis.
It said a person who stuttered should not be automatically rejected because a job description requires "excellent oral communication skills".
Ms Neil said there were jobs, such as warehouse work, which did not involve much face-to-face communication.
But she said she did not want her stutter to force her to work in a role that did not challenge her.
According to a 2014 Australian Speak East Association report the overall prevalence of stuttering in Australia is about 1 per cent.