MS Ambassador, Tanya Hunter, is influencing community thinking to accelerate and improve the inclusion of people living with MS, Progressive Neurological Diseases and those with other disabilities in her workplace – the Queensland Police Service (QPS).
Being diagnosed with one neurological medical condition will rock anyone’s world, being diagnosed with a second neurological condition, this time MS, can bring a new meaning to resilience.
When Tanya was diagnosed with MS in 2015, she was used to asking questions about her health, having previously being diagnosed with a Schwannoma – a type of spinal tumour. Tanya knew she wanted to continue her life to travel and work, she also knew she wanted to make a difference to her life and others living with disability, so she got in touch with MS Queensland to find out as much information as she could about multiple sclerosis.
During this confusing time, of sharing the news of her new diagnosis, Tanya was being asked questions within her workplace, by her friends and colleagues: “When are you going to retire? When will you be in a wheelchair? What is your life expectancy?”
Simultaneously, Tanya sought out a role as MS Ambassador, got involved with MS Queensland Services team and subsequently became involved with MS Queensland’s Employment Support Service. One of Tanya’s primary remits, as an MS Ambassador, is talking about employing people with disabilities and participated in MS Queensland’s Employment Retention Roundtable for people living with MS and other Progressive Neurological Disease attended by Federal and State Government Ministers, Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Department of Social Services and NDIA, to gain as much knowledge as she could to help herself and others.
Tanya has made it her mission to get involved, to share as much information and raise awareness and increase knowledge, not only for people living with MS but, for all people living with disability and their managers.
Senior Sergeant Tanya Hunter and Senior Sergeant Elisha Edwards, Ethical Standards Command, QPS are now formalising the development of an Accessibility Advisory Network (AAN) with leaders in the organisation.
One of the purposes of the Accessibility Advisory Network is to provide information to QPS members, and their managers, regarding available support, subsidies, community disability organisations and federal funding opportunities via JobAccess for modifications and equipment. Another priority of the Network is to assist with making the QPS a disability confident place of employment and improve the disability employment rate of non-operational staff members from approximately 3% (as of 30/06/19) to the QPS goal of achieving 8%. (QPS – Disability Service Plan Progress Report – 01/07/18 to 30/06/19)
Tanya encourages everyone to start the conversation with their workplace, to get the conversation going to raise awareness of the help that is available from Government and MS Queensland, and everyone to know that we can all educate others about MS and other disabilities and what we can do to support people to remain in work and create influence amongst your peers.