Connecting the dots. Why we do what we do.
Jigsaw is a social enterprise empowered by Fighting Chance.
Laura and Jordan O’Reilly founded Fighting Chance in 2011, inspired by the experience of their brother, Shane, who was let down by a society that defined him by his disability.
When Shane finished school, he had limited options compared to his siblings. He didn’t have access to work experience, further study or a career pathway.
Laura and Jordan saw the power of social business to shape an economy which fully included people with disability. In 2014 they co-founded Jigsaw along with social entrepreneur Paul Brown, to create a powerful, loud and confident normalisation of disability in the Australian workforce.
Employment in Australia is in the midst of a revolution. Outdated mindsets of the past have no place in workplaces which are improving, emboldening and progressing gender, sexual, mental and physical identities.
We’re considering the rise of the four-day working week; improving personal development and on-the-job training; placing greater emphasis on emotional intelligence; and designing workplaces that work for the employee rather than just the employer.
Workers living with disability are an important part of this changing picture and will be integral to the truly inclusive workplaces of the future. Right now, over one million people living with disability are in and out of the workforce. Of everyone placed in work through a Disability Employment Service, 70% are unemployed again after only three months. One might argue – as we strongly do – that the system has significant room for improvement.
Nobody can deny that money is being invested – the Australian Government contributes over $800 million dollars a year. And yes, Australian businesses are providing greater emphasis on inclusion and equality in the workforce. So all of this, and the fact that we’re even having this conversation, means we’ve made good progress, right? Well, no.
The simple fact remains: Australia has one of the highest unemployment rates for people living with disabilities within the OECD. The only solution is to find a more effective path to upskilling, resourcing and employing workers with disability.
At Jigsaw, we understand there’s only one way for people living with disability to get the experience they need to enter the workforce – and that’s through experience. We need to be shaped by action. This is how we truly value and empower workers living with disability in the training, education and business worlds of the future – with emphasis on real world training, skill building and inclusion.
This is how we ensure workers living with disability have a real, lasting sense of place and purpose in the Australian workforce, supported by programs (and attitudes) that drive a clear, unified, long-term vision. This isn’t just about improving the lives of people with disability, but about improving the lives of all Australians – as what we create will benefit all in our community (and in business), and inspire and inform the way we head forward as a country.
Because, in the end, disability in the workplace shouldn’t be extraordinary – it should be powerfully, confidently, loudly normal. We believe in creating a world where workers living with a disability are given the best opportunities to be themselves; where Australia leads the world in training, education and business; and where government and society see people with disability as vital contributors. And we want your help in taking action to create this world – by getting people living with disability in on the action.