Willing and Able Mentoring program
What is WAM?
A national program linking people with disabilities (traditionally current students but open to all people with disabilities) with mentors and their organisations.
From 2014, the program is operated by Diversity Recruitment & Training (previously managed by Kevin Murfitt of Deakin University until 2013)
PhD research undertaken by Kevin Murfitt utilising evaluations from hundreds of WAM participants found that mentees gain significantly in their confidence, clarity of career direction and professional profile; while mentors gained further insight into the talents of people with disability, and strategies to make their workplaces more inclusive.
How WAM works:
The WAM Program matches job seekers or tertiary students who have a disability with mentors in leading organisations in the job seekers or students’ field of interest for a series of 6-8 one- to two-hour meetings, so that mentees can::
- gather information about the work environment and expectations
- experience the workplace culture (e.g. attending staff meetings)
- network with people in their area of career interest
- refine their job search and interview skills
- learn how and when to disclose their disability and to open up discussions (e.g. to enable workplace modifications and integration into the workplace).
Comprehensive training is provided to mentors and mentees, and pairs are supported throughout the program.
Who can participate?
WAM is available on a fee-for-service basis across Australia for any job seeker or tertiary student who has a disability and is focused on making a career in a particular field. It is open to anyone with a disability, but has traditionally been taken up by university students and the fees paid by their university.
The program is currently offered on a user-pay bases, at $1100 per participant. Mentees or their sponsors are invoiced at the start of the program. Often, university student fees are paid by their institution. For approved individuals covering their own costs, payment can be made in three instalments over the mentoring period.
We are also inviting employers to share in the costs of the program as a part of their staff professional development program.
People who have a disability, despite being as talented as their peers, often fail to achieve their potential due to their own negative self-concepts and/or lack of familiarity with the workplace. They may also be overlooked in the fierce competition for career opportunities due to negative self-concepts, community stereotypes and general negative beliefs or assumptions about their ability.
In its many years of operation, WAM has been instrumental in reducing negative beliefs and enhancing the competitiveness of people with disabilities and in creating greater awareness of mentors and others in the workplace. Many student mentees have obtained good positions after graduation, which they attribute in large part to their involvement with WAM.
Requirements of Mentees
Mentees must be available for:
- a training workshop (this can be undertaken online or in a group face-to-face session),
- six to eight mentor sessions at the mentor’s workplace, and
- a debriefing and certificate presentation event at the end of the program.
Mentor organisations who have participated include:
- AusAID, Canberra
- Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC)
- Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU)
- Baker and McKenzie Solicitors, Sparke Helmore Lawyers and many other law firms
- Business Enterprise Centres SA Inc
- Royal Children’s Hospitals in Melbourne and Sydney
- Deakin University Equal Opportunity Unit
- Disability Discrimination Legal Service
- Environment Protection Authority, Rockhampton
- Geelong Broadcasters
- Glenelg-HopkinsRiver Catchment Authority
- Hewlett-Packard Corporation
- GM Holden
- McArthur Management Consultants, Adelaide
- National Australia Bank
- National Gallery of Victoria
- Peach Marketing Consultants, Sydney
- Queensland Police
- Royal Australian Institute of Architects
- Royal Melbourne Zoological Gardens
- Senator Lyn Allison
- Sheraton Towers Hotel
- Sustainable Energy Authority Victoria
- TAFE Tasmania
- The Alfred Hospital
- State and federal government departments
- Victoria Police
- Western Australia Institute of Sport
- Westpac, Sydney.
This program was a great help to me, not only to give me a better understanding [of my field] but as my mentor had a similar physical disability to me, she made me realise that my own experience will be the way to gauge whether I can do everything required [in my chosen field]. I definitely feel more focused and have clear ideas about my goals now. (2012 program – Mentee)
I just wanted to let you know that XX and I have finished our mentoring program due to him getting an internship. I can’t thank you enough for pairing me with XX, we got along so well and had so much fun getting to know each other. Over the past couple of months I have seen his confidence increase tenfold; he is going after so many amazing opportunities and just excelling in everything that he is doing.
We mainly worked on interview skills, fixing up his resume and learning how to identify the skills that he has gained from his many achievements, as well as discussing life in a corporate environment and some of the areas of YYY and what we do. During our program he undertook a number of interviews for internships (including one at YYY) and has already landed a part time job with a web development company which is so exciting.
He is such an awesome, upbeat person and I know he will be a superstar in whatever field he chooses to work in. He definitely taught me just as much, if not more, than I could teach him. I would do it again in a heartbeat!
Thank you again for the opportunity. (2013 program – Mentor)
Expressions of Interest from mentors and mentees are welcome at any time.
For further information, go to http://www.diversityrecruit-train.com.au/ or contact Mark Glascodine on 0419 578 098 or Julie Farthing on 0412 555305.
|Disclosure: It’s a Personal Decision
Choosing Your Path. Disclosure: It’s a Personal Decision is a free online resource which has been developed for students and employees with disabilities and also for employers, educators and support services.
This resource is an initiative of the Australian federal government, which designed it to help not only Job Network staff, but also employers of job-seekers with a disability negotiate the unique circumstances surrounding their job-seeking activities.