The South Australian founder of Disability Works Australia, Tina Zeleznik, is one of three high achievers who have been shortlisted for the National Disability Awards Business Award, to be presented on Monday 23 November in Canberra.
Before founding DWA, Ms Zeleznik operated her own deli where many of her customers were people with disabilities, many of whom were unemployed.
"I began to understand how important simply having a job was – something that most of us take for granted,” Ms Zeleznik said.
"From that early experience and the joy I found in helping out, I decided to do more to help people with disabilities to find and retain employment. My aim was and is to help employers to see people’s ability not their disability.”
Now the founder, Chief Executive Officer and Director of Disability Works Australia, Ms Zeleznik is proud of the success the South Australian based organisation has achieved. Due to Ms Zeleznik’s tireless efforts, DWA has assisted in placing more than 8,000 people in employment and DWA itself has 35 staff with offices in all States and Territories.
The National Disability Awards, administered by the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA), are part of the International Day of People with Disability. The Business Award is presented to a person with or without a disability who has displayed an innovative approach and achieved substantial outcomes for people with disabilities. Ms Zeleznik is among 15 exceptional Australians nominated for the awards, with three finalists in each of the five categories.
Natalie Hamood, one of the two people who nominated Tina for the award, said: “Ms Tina Zeleznik has committed herself to improving opportunities for people with a disability for over 20 years. Tina established DWA, a registered charity, as a single point of access for employers to recruit people with disabilities. Her work dispelled many myths and provided employers with confidence in their recruitment decisions. Her commitment to working with large corporate employers and government agencies led to significant employment opportunities for people with a disability.”
Among Ms Zeleznik’s achievements, she is most proud of how many large employers have come on board the DWA program and made a commitment to improving employment of people with disabilities.
“When I set out to work in the disability field, I could see that employers wanted to hire people with disabilities but due to the multitude of organisations out there, found disability recruitment confusing and didn’t know where to go for help.
“I trialled the business model in South Australia for a few years before the Commonwealth Government put out a tender for funding to launch the program in every State and Territory.
“By developing DWA’s excellent business model, we now have over 85 large organisations that have taken a proactive step in employing people with disability.”
DWA is a registered charity formed to maximise employment opportunities for people with a disability by providing employers with one single, free, effective contact point for the recruitment of people with disabilities. DWA has agreements with a large number of high profile employers including Coles Group, Compass Group, National Australia Bank, Woolworths and the South Australia State Government.
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