Mentoring Program helping to raise awareness in the workplace about VIPs (Vision Impaired Persons)
By Claire Manning
The Canberra Blind Society is a not-for-profit organisation founded in Canberra in 1958 with the mission to maximise the resources and abilities of Blind and Vision Impaired Persons (VIPs) by responding to their needs through the provision of care, communication, networks and support to meet their different goals.
We have received funding from the Department of Social Services through the Information Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC) Program. In 2022, we are working towards building opportunities that allow VIPs to have a rewarding career and not just a job. With this funding we have co-designed a pilot program that has a customised mentoring approach. Our Mentor Team Members are vision impaired. Our program is strengthened by the lived work and volunteer experiences of our Mentors which includes successful careers in the public and private sectors. We plan to work collaboratively and build ongoing relationships with organisations and their employees with a vision impairment to assist in:
- identifying challenges and barriers to inclusion, accessibility, and employment.
- developing resources and activities that will improve understanding to reduce challenges and barriers related to stereotypes and preconceptions about Vision Impaired Persons.
The APS Commission has supported us in our endeavours by promoting our Mentoring Program in January through the APSC Inclusion Group networks. We were really pleased with the response to our Introduction and Information Session in mid-February. We had over 13 APS Government Departments and Agencies dial into our on-line event. Since this event we have had supportive conversations with everyone and have had several teams, sign-up to Stage 1 of our Mentoring Program. Those who did not have availability to participate over the next few months indicated they were keen to stay in touch.
We have started Stage 1 - Relationship Building and Information Sharing and we are gaining insights that support our research and also finding out new areas to consider in raising awareness. Resource Identification & Development to be undertaken in Stage 2, will use the rich and thoughtful Stage 1 discussions to provide ideas for resources. By August we are confident we will know much more and will have made good progress on achieving our program aims to:
- Provide a quality customised mentoring approach where we work collaboratively and build ongoing productive relationships with organisations and their employees with vision impairment.
- Identify challenges and barriers to inclusion, accessibility, and employment.
- Increase awareness of the capabilities of vision impaired persons and knowledge about access to available supports.
- Develop resources and activities that will improve understanding to reduce challenges and barriers related to recruitment and retention due to stereotypes and preconceptions about vision impaired persons.
For more details contact Claire Manning, Project Officer at Canberra Blind Society on email firstname.lastname@example.org or mobile 0411 436 092.