IN an Australian first, a platform to educate women with intellectual disabilities about their workplace rights was recently launched.
The online program, which has been years in the making, is the brainchild of Tara Shekede, founder of Me Plus More, in conjunction with the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet’s Office for Women.
The program provides a stream of learning that women in the workplace with intellectual disabilities, or cognitive impairments, may never had access to before.
It covers topics such as best practice in getting a job and how one should be treated in the workplace with regards to consent, sexual harassment and navigating workplace challenges.
Shekede founded Me Plus More after spending years working in the disability sector, where she grew frustrated with the lack of available resources to support people in learning independent life skills.
Shekede, a member of the Jewish community, is passionate about advocating for women living with intellectual disabilities, with the Me Plus More program open to anyone who identifies with an intellectual or cognitive impairment.
After applying for a grant, Shekede received $225,000 to cover the costs of launching the program.
“We’re delighted to be receiving funding from the Commonwealth Government for a project specifically for women with intellectual disability,” said Shekede.
“It indicates a commitment to ensuring these women have a bright and positive future.”
The program is a first of its kind, and aims to prevent issues around wrongful discrimination and danger in the workplace, especially for women with an intellectual disability who may not have been taught these important lessons.
It offers 12 streams of learning over a 12-month period and already has 30 women signed up, with more on a waitlist to join.
“It comes at a time when soaring numbers of women have bravely put their hands up to speak of their experiences, and with the program targeted to improve outcomes, I believe this will have great results for the women in our communities,” said Shekede.
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women, Senator Marise Payne, said the projects have a focus on boosting women’s employment opportunities and supporting women’s safety.
“These projects are estimated to benefit around 40,000 Australian women nationwide, including women from diverse backgrounds and those at high risk of long-term unemployment,” said Payne.