Paralympic gold medallist says finding a job was hard

JOB SEARCH: (From left) Paralympian Tracy Barrell OAM, Member for Page and Project Ambassador Kevin Hogan and Thomas Anstoetz from TAFE.
JOB SEARCH: (From left) Paralympian Tracy Barrell OAM, Member for Page and Project Ambassador Kevin Hogan and Thomas Anstoetz from TAFE. Patrick Gorbunovs

SHE'S won two gold medals at the Paralympics and is raising two kids, but Tracy Barrell said the hardest thing she's ever done was look for a job.

"People sometimes talk to me like I'm deaf. I say 'I'm missing my legs, not my ears'."

Ms Barrell was at the launch of a new campaign to find 50 jobs in 30 days for people with a disability in the Northern Rivers.

A Brunswick Heads-based travel service that aims to create "holidays without hassles" for people with a disability has been the first business to stick up its hand, saying it would employ two people.

Marketing manager for Jeff McLeod said: "When they're working behind a computer, there is no disability."

He said they wanted to "put their money where there mouth is" and he hopes to increase the workforce to include five people with disabilities as the business expands in the next year or so.

Tracy Barrell said the biggest obstacle was often people's perceptions.

"Sometimes people expect that you can't do a task ... but we only apply for jobs that we know we can do.

"There may be access or other infrastructure issues, but these can be overcome.

"We've got dreams and hopes and aspirations that we want to have homes and holidays and be able to buy cars. And we want to be able to work to achieve this," she said.

The Federal Government's local employment coordinator for the Richmond-Tweed and Clarence Valley region, Terry Watson, said there were sound economic reasons for businesses to take on somebody with a disability. He said research shows they are often more reliable and more flexible in their working hours than people without a disability.

"So often society defines people by their disability and not by their abilities. This is a chance for businesses to help change that."

 The disability jobs drive involves Epic, Max, Nortec, CRS, Chess and Tursa employment services.

For businesses interested in finding out more about the program, phone 1300 552 296.

Topics:  athlete career job search paralympics tracy barrell

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