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Education and Employment

Microbusinesses creating greater employment opportunities in Hobart

Young woman in wheelchair in front of laptop and networking while her colleague working behind

Creative Lab, a business run by people participating in the Life Without Barriers Day Program is facilitating more people with disabilities to get into the labour market in Goodwood, Hobart.

Creative Lab creates and sells hand-made candles, soaps, bath bombs, snuffle rugs, spray aromas and Jewellery at market stalls across Hobart.

Carly O’Brien, Life Without Barriers Disability Support Worker said the program started 5 years ago when participants of the program started a candle-making program in addition to their regular day program.

“There were a few people who weren’t eager for traditional employment but were really interested in making their own money, so we started making and selling candles.

“People participating in the program run every aspect of the business from picking out glassware, wicking a candle, heating wax and adding fragrance. They then lead how we will sell each product, organise market stalls and manage the revenue from any sales.

“In the end, the money from sales goes back into the business for materials and the participants get 20% of the overall profit.

People with disabilities comprise nearly 20% of Australia’s population; however, they are yet to experience consistent and equitable access to employment.

Around 93% of people with disability of working age report experiencing barriers in gaining employment, and less than half are employed.

Australia is experiencing record lows in unemployment, yet barriers continue to be faced by people with disabilities.

Joanne Hawthorne, a senior Support Worker at Life Without Barriers said it’s critical that people with disabilities have an opportunity to create a business from the ground up if they wish to – just like other people in the community.

“Creative Lab has been to various markets across Hobart including the Northgate markets and most recently, some of the Creative Lab products were featured at Agfest.

“They can see the whole process and learn skills along the way which could also help more people with disability into employment later in life.

“Some people are more creative; others are more interested in the financial or marketing side of things each person is choosing how to use their talents to contribute to the business as a whole.

“The best part about this is that it gets people excited about making their own money, they get so much out of making beautiful things and proudly selling them in our community.

“It’s like anyone, work gives people purpose and makes you feel good because you’re contributing to society and getting involved in a way you choose. It gives people the confidence to know that they can go out and be like anyone else.

Disrupting the barriers people with disabilities experience is not about benevolence; it is critical to the fabric of society. It is the right of all people to have equal access to employment, and when Australian workplaces are genuinely diverse and reflective of our communities, all of society benefits.

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