On International Day of People with Disability, locally run NDIS and DES provider Castle is urging businesses to give the gift of a job for Christmas.
While for many the holiday season is an opportunity to celebrate with friends, 10% of families in our community are without a stable household income and are living at or below the poverty line.
"People in our region will have no means of buying their family or friends presents however, as business leaders, we have the power to make an impact and change this," Castle CEO Dianne Hamer said.
"When you give the gift of a job, you're not just gaining a new employee, you're giving someone the opportunity to celebrate with their family this holiday season."
As the region's largest disability service provider, Castle is encouraging local businesses to embrace diversity and hire a person with a disability.
Castle recently celebrated 100 businesses pledging to their Inclusive 100 campaign, which aims to put disability on the agenda in the community by encouraging diversity in the workplace.
The campaign has gained the support of major employers in the region such as The Wests Group, nib Health Funds and Hunter Water.
Lake Macquarie City Council was the first government agency to join in September.
The support from local government helped motivate the business community to take action and raised awareness at a state and national level.
"We know there are huge benefits in making our communities more inclusive. We all have a role to play in improving employment opportunities, as well as the health and wellbeing of people with disability and this is one way the Council can show our support and take action," Lake Macquarie Mayor Cr Kay Fraser said.
Hiring a person with a disability not only reflects positively on a business' customer relations but increases staff morale and efficiency in the workplace.
"It's great for our business, the people who come here are keen, enthusiastic and do a wonderful job as they take immense pride in what they do. It's a win-win all round," Sean 0'Sullivan, managing partner of Moray and Agnew, said.
Although Castle has achieved their goal of 100 local businesses pledging to inclusion, they are continuing their social movement by encouraging businesses to hire a person with a disability during the holiday season.
"For every person you employ through Castle in the next four weeks, we will donate $10 to the Samaritan's Christmas Lunch in Newcastle on behalf of your business," Ms Hamer said.
Giving the gift of a job to a person with a disability is the first step in removing the barriers faced by our community's most vulnerable.