Link December 2018 Volume 27 Issue 6 - Page 42

employment “It’s up to us to get out there and raise the bar, but to do that, we need to be seen.” Mal Turnbull (pictured far left) ran assistive technology company Seating Dynamics Ltd (SDL), which was bought by global leader Permobil in 2015. Mal is now Senior Advisor and Ambassador for Permobil Australia. “It’s up to us to get out there and raise the bar, but to do that, we need to be seen.” He believes business owners with disability bring unique insights while also helping to drive accessibility and inclusiveness. “In my own experience in the assistive technology industry, wheelchair users who started their own businesses have been instrumental in driving innovation and product development,” Mal said. “For me, being a business owner highly flexible, part-time employment more than employees who are simply has given me the opportunity to to Paralogic staff, and this means grateful for any job we’re offered.” grow in self-confidence, financial they can live lives that wouldn’t be She said physical barriers are possible otherwise. It doesn’t get still common issues for people with SDL was established in 1997 much better than this.” disability in Australian work places. and in 2001, Mal was offered an Despite her success, Anne- opportunity to purchase a share in Marie still faces barriers – mostly places still lack accessible parking, the company. By 2015, when SDL attitudinal ones – as a business an accessible bathroom, and many was acquired by Permobil, it had owner with disability. simply just have stairs. There is also grown from small beginnings to be a great lack of roles with flexible a significant force in the Australian Anne-Marie had a part-time job. For working hours, part-time work or assistive technology industry. three years, she would go into her options to work from home,” she said. When she started Paralogic, “We were the biggest TiLite day job, sneak into the conference “Overall, I think attitudes are dealer outside of North America, our room to return customer calls, and the biggest issue. Employers don’t ROHO sales continued to gain awards then drive home in the afternoon, know what’s involved in employing for growth, we were the biggest pack orders and take them to the someone with a disability, and there’s SmartDrive dealer outside of North post office in a big sack on the back this idea that someone else will take America, and we had other leading of her wheelchair, often with boxes care of it, maybe the government or brands such as BodyPoint in our on her lap as well. bigger corporates. But small business portfolio. We sold the business at a accounts for almost 50 per cent of price that was good enough to secure woman with a disability was doing all employment in Australia and most of our future. By any measure SDL was a of this,” she said. these businesses are not accessible. resounding success!” Mal said. “People were surprised that a “We all know that expectations 42 “The vast majority of work security and resilience.” This needs to change, and as Mal said he loved being a about our capabilities are far too employers we need to take ownership business owner, but there were low. But we can, and should be, a lot of making this happen. inevitable challenges. employment