Engineers Australia to launch group for engineers with disabilities

Ahead of the UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3 December, Engineers Australia is undertaking a survey to better understand what improvements could be made for engineers with disabilities in the workplace or at university.
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Following the survey Engineers Australia will launch Engineers with Disabilities Australia (EwDA), which will be a community for discussion.

To support the creation of the community, Engineers Australia has launched a short survey for people with disabilities working in engineering. The survey will help the team to better understand what challenges engineers with disabilities face in the workplace or at university.

Engineers Australia spoke to one member about their experience in the industry and why a forum like EwDA is important.

Dr Anthony Cheng MIEAust CPEng NER, Senior Systems Engineer, has been in the industry for more than two decades. Much of his career has been spent working on cyber security and data management projects at BAE Systems Australia.

“What is great about the engineering profession is its variety. For some engineers, there are large amounts of field work, or attending sites. With my mobility limitations, working on a building site would be difficult, but working on telecommunications and information system security is my core expertise, so most of my work is done from an office desk,” Anthony says.

To ensure Anthony can perform at the highest standard, his employer engaged an occupational therapist to identify points for improvement within Anthony’s office environment, in Canberra. He was provided a chair with armrests, and sharp edges on walls were removed. Regular reviews with the site manager ensure the office continues to meet his needs.

Since attending university, Anthony believes universities and businesses have improved accessibility within their workplaces.

“A forum like EwDA can raise awareness in the community of engineers with disabilities and promote their abilities and benefits they bring to employers, while maintaining a repository of information for any person or organisation seeking further information,” he says.

“EwDA will also provide a support network to current and future high school and university students considering a career in engineering. With an ongoing skill shortage in engineering across the country, it is vital that we engage with as many people as we can, from all backgrounds, and encourage them to take up fulfilling engineering careers.”

Engineers Australia and the EwDA Committee would like to hear from a range of engineers with disabilities about personal experiences and barriers, to help encourage diversity and inclusivity in universities and workplaces.

If you wish to respond, please complete the anonymous survey. The EwDA Committee will use the findings of the survey to guide future discussions and possible guest speakers.

Image: Dr Anthony Cheng