The Ventia team at the AHRI awards

The mood was electric at the Australian HR Institute (AHRI) Awards first in-person awards ceremony for over two years this week, as individuals and companies from across Australia gathered in Melbourne to hear who would be recognised for their efforts in promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and providing a supportive, safe and mentally healthy culture for their people.

We were very proud to step up to the podium and take home the Disability Employment Award this year, having been finalists in 2021. We were in good company this year, with the NSW Department of Planning and Environment and IT consulting firm auticon as fellow finalists. Accepting the award on Ventia's behalf was Project Director Matthew Cook and Disability & Social Inclusion Manager Daniel Osgood.

We are proud of our diverse workforce and passionate about providing opportunities for people with disability and building an inclusive culture. 

Through the leadership and support of employees like Daniel Osgood, Matthew Cook, Social Inclusion Manager Loes Westerbeek and numerous supportive project managers, contracts across Australia have created opportunities for people with disability to contribute to our focus on redefining service excellence for our clients.


Project Director Matthew Cook (left) and Disability & Social Inclusion Manager Daniel Osgood showcasing the award.


Focused efforts provided strong results

Focused efforts toward building an inclusive workforce across Ventia has resulted in a 400+% increase in employees with a disability. We have 150+ employees in roles including help desk, administration, data entry and soft services. We also have a number of contracted roles, including through Australian Spatial Analytics who have provided analysts to undertake design work within our Telecommunications business. 

Group Executive Defence & Social Infrastructure Derek Osborn is very passionate about improving and supporting diversity across his sector and champions all efforts to do so. 

"Working across diverse communities in Australia and New Zealand, our workforce must reflect this diversity, so we better understand the communities in which we operate," says Derek.

To ensure a diverse workforce, we need to look at it through the lens of identifiers such as gender, cultural background and abilities. We also recognised the challenges we faced finding the right people to fill roles wasn't helped by ignoring a largely untapped pool of capable and committed people.

The Disability Employment AHRI award in close up

We were very proud to take home the Disability Employment Award this year.


NSW Whole of Government (WOG) contract

Whilst our journey to an inclusive workplace for people with disability began many years ago, a more structured program was first introduced on the NSW Whole of Government (WOG) contact in 2019 when our client set key performance indicators for contractors regarding social inclusion. They were seeking a 5% participation rate for employees with a disability.

The Project Director at the time had also been considering how he could build a more diverse team, to tap into the talent and special skills he knew were out there. 

Current Project Director Matt Cook says they began with the premise that our workforce should be proportionally representative of the communities in which we work.

"ABS data says 17% of the population has a disability," Matt says. "The first challenge was to ensure we were bringing everyone involved along on the journey."

"Most managers are supportive of diversity and inclusion and agree it's the right thing to do. But it is often the case that hiring managers are time poor, and in a tough recruitment market, they'll often stick to processes they are familiar with."


view from a seat at the AHRI awards, looking at the table

Focused efforts toward building an inclusive workforce across Ventia has resulted in a 400+% increase in employees with a disability.


Unique skills and new ideas added to the workforce

Employment is linked not only to income and economic security, but to other aspects of wellbeing. Problems finding or keeping employment can have broader impacts on living conditions and opportunities for the individual, their family and the wider community. 

Derek says the team recognised that by increasing our workplace diversity we'd be giving opportunities to a lot of skilled people that may not otherwise be given the chance. 

The benefit to our business is that diversity brings unique skills, new ideas, new ways of thinking and broader appeal for our business.

"It also enables us to tap into a wider employment pool, which is crucial for a large and growing business like Ventia," says Derek.

Matt explains that growth was achieved through actions such as appointing a Disability and Social Inclusion Manager to drive cultural change, reviewing job design, engaging on-site leaders for buy-in, engaging with a wide range of disability employment operators, and seeking regular feedback from our employees and our leaders. 

Partnership with JobAccess

"More recently, our partnership with JobAccess helps us work through any barriers to employment of people with disability company-wide. That has also cemented our commitment and ensures that systems, processes and capability are continuously improved."   

Importantly, as we grow the number of employees with disability, existing employees can share and explain the barriers they faced and help find ways to address them.

More information on careers with Ventia can be found here.