#CountMeIn is the call from Corporate Australia as employers partner with Inclusion Foundation

Matthew Foo working in the cafe at DuluxGroup

Inclusion Foundation is excited to announce our 2021 corporate partners for the innovative program Impact21. This unique employer-driven program leads to meaningful and matched employment for Victorian employers and young adults living with Down syndrome and intellectual disability. The program has been co-designed with large-scale employer partners and was launched in 2019. Since then, the program has continued to support not only the worker but also the employer to achieve their diversity and inclusion objectives. 

The Impact21 employer partners are SodexoJB H-FiTorrens University AustraliaACMIMelbourne Sports CentresTennis Australia and CVGT. These partnerships are a welcome addition to an already thriving program supporting a diverse workforce that leads to sustainable employment for Impact21 participants. 

“ACMI is proud to join the program,” said ACMI Director & CEO Katrina Sedgwick OAM. “Our ACMI 2019-2022 Disability Action Plan was formulated to capture the spirit of our organisational values which include a commitment to inclusion and diversity. Impact21 is a wonderful opportunity to continue putting this commitment to diversity into action”. 

The first of the two-year program provides personal and professional skill development in an environment where same aged peers are also studying. Torrens University facilitated this by hosting the program pilot. In 2021, an equitable learning experience in CBD campuses has been realised by the Centre for Adult Education and Torrens University. Program participants engage with employer partners throughout and move into matched employment with on-the-job learning and support. 

Earlier this year, Impact21 graduate Matthew Foo (pictured) recommenced work at the DuluxGroup office in Clayton, working closely with the People Services team. Matthew has also recently joined the Ducaf team on a weekly basis working in the café. “Ducaf is the nice place to get a coffee and catch up with friends,” says Matthew who is really enjoying the new opportunity and experience working in the café. 

  
“The Impact21 program facilitates the Tennis Australia inclusion and diversity strategy being implemented in daily practice,” said Craig Tiley, Tennis Australia CEO. “Customised employment allows us to really look at what we need as an organisation, work with the program participants, and understand their skills and interests, to then align for meaningful employment.” 

A mere 7 per cent of Australians think people with disabilities are supported “very well”, according to the Australia Talks National Survey 2021. Inclusion Foundation aims to increase this percentage through the Impact21 program with targeted support to participants as well as their employers. Further, according to the Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation 48 (2018) 417–431 “the most important factor indicating best practice in employment of people with disability was strong connections with and understanding of disability support networks.”  

Inclusion Foundation works to bridge this gap with a long-term goal of creating a world where people with an intellectual disability are equal, active, respected members of society. With less than 5% of working-aged individuals with Down syndrome in open employment, programs such as Impact21 are a shining light for inclusion in the workforce. 

Inclusion Foundation is proud to be leading the way to an inclusive future with the innovative program Impact21 and forward-thinking partners.