A ‘great kid’ and a valuable team member, thanks to workplace inclusion
Australia Post is committed to workplace inclusion for Australians who live with disability. Michael and his dad, Greg, share their journey.
Video: At a dining table, a young man with Down Syndrome, Michael, and a middle aged man, Greg, read through a list of suburbs.
Audio: Michael: Ashfield. Bullsbrook. Beldon. Brigadoon. Greg: Brigadoon, yeah. Good job.
Video: They are interviewed sitting side by side in the lounge room. Michael has dark hair and a beard, Greg wears glasses. Text: "Greg and Michael Richardson."
Audio: Greg: I'm really proud of Michael. Michael is very caring. He loves challenges. He loves to sing. He's a great kid. Great kid.
Greg: Oh, sorry. Yeah, he doesn't like being called a kid. He's a great guy.
Video: Aerial footage shows a leafy seaside suburb. The title 'Journeys' appears in white text above the Australia Post logo. Family members of different generations gather around Michael and Greg as they look through an album of baby photos. The interview continues.
Audio: Greg: We moved to Australia from India. Girl: We went in 2001. Greg: 2001.
Greg: And one of the reasons for coming over was Michael, for his future. And we just took the risk.
Video: They look through photos of a chubby baby and of Michael in a school uniform. The interview continues.
Audio: Michael: Oh. Girl: Is that Michael? Child: Is that Michael? Michael: Yeah, yeah, it's me.
Audio: Michael: High school is very challenging. I'm always being deaf. If I don't listen to my teachers, I will...go to the principal's office.
Greg: I felt, you know, Michael can do better than that. And I think every parent should feel that, because if you don't feel that, that kid is, you know, stuck.
Video: In a huge warehouse, large metal baskets of parcels flank conveyor belts. A red Australia Post truck contains baskets full of parcels. Greg holds a meeting for staff. They all wear bright yellow safety gear. Later, Greg takes photos.
Audio: Greg: So, I've been working for Australia Post for over 17 years. Every July, Australia Post will advertise for Christmas casuals, and I thought, "This is the perfect time. We should try and get Michael in." But he couldn't even read at the time. I took photos of all the signages and every evening after school, I would get Michael at the dining table and make him read.
Video: Michael and Greg read together at the table.
Audio: Michael: Aveley. Beldon.
Greg: It was difficult initially, but Michael now knows half of the 3,000 suburbs in Western Australia. And now Michael is permanent part-time for almost two years now. Michael: Mmm.
Video: Trees are silhouetted against the bright orange horizon and the paler orange sky. Wearing yellow safety jumpers, Greg and Michael head into a building. They work among the conveyor belts or parcels. Tags with suburb names and postcodes hang from a rack. A long list of suburbs is headed 'Central Coastal'. Working with a colleague, Michael checks a parcel.
Audio: Greg: There are about 100,000 parcels which come through our facility every day. It has grown more than 100 times what we were, because every year there are new suburbs. Michael likes to go to the Gold Fields. Initially...
Michael: No. I like to go to South Roads, GSR, North west, CCM and Gold Fields. Greg: You work everywhere. Michael: Yeah. Greg: Ah, OK, OK.
Video: In the warehouse, Greg runs a meeting. His staff, including Michael, stand in a large circle around him. Michael checks parcels on a conveyor belt, and grabs one. The interview continues.
Audio: Greg: Not as a dad, but as a supervisor, I follow up his work to make sure that some customer's parcel is not mis-sorted or going to the wrong place, and I've not found a mistake. I think he's just grasped the opportunity and he's really doing well.
Video: Greg, Michael and colleagues walk through the warehouse. Michael and colleagues chat at tables and near conveyor belts.
Audio: Michael: I love to work at Australia Post. It's a wonderful place. I chat with my friends about where they're born, when's their birthdays, and their love story also.
Video: Michael closes a metal basket, then writes on a document. He wheels a basket of parcels through the warehouse. He takes a parcel from the conveyor belt and examines its address. He chats and laughs with a colleague. Michael checks parcels on a conveyor belt. Nearby, Greg checks the contents of a basket.
Audio: Greg: Since Michael has started working at Australia Post, the management has employed many more people with disability in the workforce. To me, it's not about Michael. It's about looking at Michael and seeing, yes, he is capable of doing these things. These people bring so much life into the workplace and others in the workplace can also understand more about this and be more tolerant. And if ever a person with a disability should work in a place where they would get equal opportunity, I think that was the perfect place for Michael.
Michael: He is proud of me.
Greg: I am very proud of you, Michael. You're doing a fantastic job.
Michael: Thank you.
Video: In the warehouse, Greg stands with his arm around Michael's shoulders. Parcels cruise past on a conveyor belt.
The Australia Post logo appears on a red screen. Text reads, "Watch the full Journeys series at auspost.com.au/watch." The text fades. The words "Australia Post" appear beside the stylised 'P' of the logo above the words "Delivering for Australia."
Audio: Voiceover: Australia Post. Delivering for Australia.
When Greg Richardson and his family moved from India to Australia, they hoped to secure a stable future. Australia Post is proud to have played a role in that future.
Greg has worked for more than 17 years in a busy mail sorting facility in Western Australia that handles around 100,000 parcels every day. Today, he is a supervisor at the facility.
Greg’s son Michael lives with disability including hearing loss, and when he was old enough to seek work Greg knew having his son work alongside him would be a fantastic opportunity, not only for Michael, but also for his team and the broader Australia Post business.
3000 suburbs later, Michael has secured a promising future
Listening to them speak, the strong bond and affection between Michael and Greg is clear. And when Michael gently tells off his dad for calling him “a great kid” rather than “a great guy”, it’s hard not to smile.
It’s this kind of light-hearted banter, combined with a love of the job, that has made Michael such a valuable team member.
But to get here, there were numerous challenges Greg and Michael had to tackle together.
“Every July, Australia Post would advertise for Christmas casuals, and I thought this was the perfect time to try to get Michael in,” he says.
And while Greg knew his son was more than capable of doing a great job, Michael couldn’t read. So together they worked on improving Michael’s skills. “I took photos of all the signs (at work), and every evening after school I would get Michael at the dining table and make him read,” Greg says. “It was difficult initially, but Michael now knows half of the 3,000 suburbs in Western Australia.”
Proud dad and supervisor
The strategy worked, with Michael landing his first job at Australia Post, and Greg’s more than pleased with his progress. “Not as a dad, but as a supervisor, I follow up his work to make sure that customers’ parcels are not missorted or going to the wrong place, and I’ve not found a mistake.”
The smile that Greg shares with Michael when he tells this story is one of pride.
“I am very proud of you, Michael. You are doing a fantastic job.”
That first casual job went so well that Michael was offered a part-time permanent role, which he has held with Australia Post for the last two years – and counting.
A joyful experience
“Michael is very caring,” Greg says of his son. “He loves challenges, he loves to sing, he’s a great guy.”
In particular, Greg is happy his son has made the most of this future that brought the family to Australia in the first place. “He’s just grasped the opportunity, and he’s really doing well.”
As for Michael, he says his job is a joyful part of his life. “I love to work at Australia Post. It’s a wonderful place. I chat with my friends about where they were born, when their birthday is, and their love stories also!”
It’s clear Michael’s experience of equal opportunity in gaining his job at Australia Post is a point of happiness for both father and son.
Equal opportunity employment at Australia Post
This inclusivity is an important part of Australia Post’s values and strategic plan, providing access to the workplace for the more than four million people in Australia who live with disability. Australia Post is a member of the Australian Network on Disability and has successfully completed the Disability Confident Recruiter program to provide an inclusive experience for candidates with disability.
Greg says this story isn’t about Michael, but about something bigger. “It’s about looking at Michael and seeing he is capable of doing these things. These people bring so much life into the workplace.”
He has noticed a change in Australia Post’s employment practices in the last few years. “Since Michael has started working at Australia Post, the management has employed many more people with disabilities in their workforce.”
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