We all need a Fighting Chance

Hello there, this is Houda Lebbos, Smartgroup CHRO, borrowing Deven’s blog to let you know we had the great pleasure recently of meeting Laura O’Reilly, CEO and co-founder of Fighting Chance.

Laura’s organisation is a non-profit which provides opportunities for meaningful social participation, employment and skill development to young people with the most significant disabilities in our community.

Laura says these are people that would otherwise, very likely, be prevented from pursuing their ambitions and fulfilling their potential simply because they have a disability. The statistics are stark – 85% of young adults with profound disabilities in Australia experience life-long unemployment and have just one-tenth the opportunity for social participation outside the home compared with the ‘average’ Australian.

Fighting Chance Australia, launched in early 2011 by Laura, her brother Jordan and a team of committed young professionals, challenges these injustices and societal exclusion by removing the practical barriers that stand in the way of workforce participation for Australians with the most significant disabilities.

For instance, some individuals may need assistance with the bathroom, meals or medication. Even for organisations with strong employment diversity practices this can simply be a barrier too far for direct employment. The genius of the Fighting Chance model is that businesses can outsource work to the team at Fighting Chance which provide the office space and practical assistance required for employees throughout the working day. It’s a win-win solution for businesses looking for scalable, outsourced support and Fighting Chance programme participants looking for meaningful employment.

Fighting Chance matches skills and provides training where necessary through its Enterprise Program. Every participant or ‘Intern’ follows an individualized program, which combines training and work tasks in a way that best suits the interests and aspirations of the individual and the needs of the employer.

A great example of this in practice is with Aon Hewitt which has outsourced a large portion of the data collection and entry associated with the Best Employer programme – providing both a scalable solution to Aon’s fluctuating administration support needs and meaningful, paid work for Australians with disabilities.

The program has a heavy IT focus, and equips and prepares program participants for IT-based roles within social enterprises in addition to data and administrative support.

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At Smartgroup we’re looking at the possibility of outsourcing some peak operational administrative tasks, in addition to providing some direct support to the IT team in their rollout of Salesforce.com modules, a system we use in-house here.

The ethos of Fighting Chance is admirable and one that we share here at Smartgroup. In their words: “we passionately believe that employment is important for giving structure, purpose and meaning to the life of any adult. Everyone should have the opportunity to contribute to and benefit from the work of a team.”


Deven Billimoria
Chief Executive Officer
Smartgroup

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