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Local University drives change for disability graduates


Jessica Nelson
8 October 2018

New research suggests that University students with a disability are far less likely to find employment after graduating than those without disability. Recognising this significant disadvantage, Southern Cross University has set out to change these employment outcomes.

In a local Gold Coast collaboration brought together by the region’s National Disability Coordination Officer (NDCO) Emma Killick, Southern Cross University has partnered with one of Australia’s leading providers of disability employment support, ON-Q Disability Services, to drive change for graduates with disability.

As part of the University Specialist Employment Partnerships (USEP) program, Southern Cross University and ON-Q have carefully designed a 12-month pilot program aimed to meet the specific needs of students with disability seeking employment.

A dedicated and experienced ON-Q Employment Consultant will work alongside the Careers and Employability team at Southern Cross University’s Gold Coast campus to build stronger connections between the University and local employers in the region.

Leanne Baker, Manager of Careers and Employability at Southern Cross University, said she was excited by the opportunities ahead for students and graduates with disability.

“We are delighted to be one of the first five universities in Australia to implement this valuable program. Our partnership with ON-Q and the NDCO program pioneers support for students with disability from the start of their second year, recognising the importance of proactively developing employability and career management skills early on in their studies.”

Emma Killick, who is leading the partnership between the University and ON-Q, said the program has the ability to change the lives of every student living with a disability or mental health condition.

“This program is so important to help close the employment gap between graduates with disability and graduates without disability. We want to ensure all students have the best chance they can at gaining employment after they finish their studies, including those living with disability,” Ms Killick said.

“I am hopeful that graduate employment rates for people with disability will improve as awareness about the benefits of hiring a diverse workforce is increased through programs like these.

“We know that research has proven that employing a person who lives with disability is actually beneficial to an organisation. I really want to encourage all local employers to get behind the program and support our local graduates. I can’t wait for the day where we live in a world where inclusion happens organically, and everyone feels empowered to pursue their life dreams and I know that programs like this will drive that change.”

The USEP program is developed and led by the National Disability Coordination Officer Program, an Australian Government funded initiative, in collaboration with university and employment partners.

The program is available to both Southern Cross University students who have completed their first year of studies and recent graduates with disability through timely and appropriate employment service supports.

This media release was written in conjunction with USEP
More information can be found on the USEP website

Students can register online. Go to or login at and select a USEP appointment, otherwise email [email protected]