Oliver Hunter is the newest Victorian Community Engagement Manager in the Provider Choice team, and he has an incredible story to share. Our Community Engagement team goes the extra mile to help NDIS participants, their families and Support Coordinators to make sense of NDIS plans and manage funds more effectively.
Oli has just surpassed his third month at Provider Choice, and his positive impact on our community is undeniable. With experience as a long-term disability advocate, a kind heart and a great sense of humour to match, we couldn’t be happier to have Oli on the team.
Read ahead to hear about his first few months at Provider Choice and why he’s so intricately connected to our mission of improving the lives of people with disability.
Where do I start?
I live with cerebral palsy (CP), a neurological condition I was born with. Despite the challenges thrown my way, I’m fortunate to have an incredibly supportive family who raised me with a ‘can-do’ attitude – and I hope to help others do the same.
Around 4.4 million Australians live with disability. That’s one in every five people, or approximately 20 per cent of our population. Of those, just over 500,000 are participants in the NDIS – and here at Provider Choice, we’re working hard to help these people achieve the goals and a level of independence to live a higher quality life.
Safe to say, I’m thrilled to be a part of that.
As someone with a visible disability, I’ve had hesitations about heading down a career path focused on my disability. But I soon realised it was important to lean into my lived experience so I could help others.
My first few months at Provider Choice have been awesome. My role as Victorian Community Engagement Manager is all about building relationships within our Victorian NDIS community. I get a real sense of fulfilment from connecting with people who have faced similar challenges to me, and then helping them find solutions through our wonderful health tech to overcome these challenges.
What real inclusivity looks like
As I’ve grown older, I’ve found myself running into major societal problems like workplace discrimination. In fact, 18.5% of people aged 15-25 have experienced workplace discrimination due to their disability.
Fortunately, Provider Choice is a progressive company leading the way in changing this.
From the get-go, our Head of Growth, Joel Robbie, has listened to my needs and facilitated the workplace flexibility I require due to my CP. For example, a typical physiotherapy appointment takes me twice as long due to my transport and accessibility needs – and the team at Provider Choice accepted this with no questions.
It’s small acts like this that can have a profound impact on people in the workforce with a disability. Why? Because it reinforces the message that your employer wants you as part of their team, values your contribution to the business, and accepts you for who you really are. This sentiment has shone through since starting at Provider Choice.
However, unfortunately, this isn’t a reality at many workplaces. Flexibility and adaptability can be used as a ‘throw-away’ term by companies to entice people to come on board. It’s therefore so refreshing to be a part of a company that genuinely builds inclusive and adaptable environments.
Oh, and did I mention Provider Choice actively headhunted me for my role? Now THAT’S being inclusive.
Here's how you can follow our lead to create a truly diverse working environment
So you may be asking: how can businesses create a truly diverse and inclusive working environment?
Some key points that come to mind below, all of which I have experienced since starting here at Provider Choice.
- Listen to the unique voices of people with disability. My needs differ from the next person, and we all require different levels of flexibility and adaptability. No two disabilities are the same. What do people need to be able to provide maximum value at a company?
- Recruiters need to actively reach out to people with disability. Many have had a tumultuous employment journey and want contribute meaningful work in a team – but they might just be hesitant to approach a company based off past experience. Look past someone’s disability, and ask yourself: what can this person offer us based on their skillset and experience?
- Assess the physical accessibility of your facility. Is it suitable for an employee who uses a wheelchair or has difficult walking? Be honest with yourselves and implement changes if necessary.
- Does your recruitment process support the needs of employees with different abilities? For example, if you hold initial interviews via Zoom, will it be suitable for people who have difficulty accessing a computer? Tailor your interviewing structure to make it fair for all.
A note on the NDIS
The NDIS has enormous potential to truly change lives and build relationships that last a lifetime. In fact, my life has significantly improved since the NDIS was introduced.
In my role, I speak with support coordinators, participants, and plan nominees daily. My disability helps me to break down barriers quickly, because I know what it’s like to be a participant in the scheme and have first-hand experience navigating funding, accessing support, and advocating for plan reviews.
That’s one of my favourite parts about working in the Community Engagement team at Provider Choice. I’m helping people access high-quality NDIS services and know that it’s going to make a true difference in their lives. What more could I ask for?
Oli is our Community Engagement Manager for Victoria. If you’re based in Victoria and want to learn more about our plan management services or get in touch with Oli to say hi, you can book a meeting with him here.
To learn more about our Community Engagement team and our friendly team members across Australia, click here.