I am grateful for being seen for who I am

May 16, 2022
  • Diversity and inclusion
  • People and community

Our people join us with varied skills and expertise. We are committed to building an inclusive workplace, where our staff feel valued, are provided with the tools to be successful, and given opportunities to progress.

Ash, a Meter Reader on the Endeavour Energy Alliance, joined UGL last year in partnership with Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect). UGL works with Aspect to source, select and appoint candidates.

A small action can be fundamental in changing someone’s whole life. 

Clytie de Vries, UGL Alliance Manager, recently took some steps to plan how the team can work together to improve outcomes for Ash and the team.

Ash’s Mum, Rose, explains:

All Ash’s life people have been looking at him and seeing a perfectly average child/adolescent/man.

He has been forced to try to live up to the expectations of people’s assumptions, because his challenges navigating life are not evident by looking at or talking to him. People who are born on the spectrum face challenges every day of their life.

Employment is one of the most difficult of the essential tasks of a neuro-diverse adult because the very nature of working for someone means one must fit exactly into the mould which has been created with the average person in mind.

So, when UGL committed to employing people on the autism spectrum I was given hope that maybe this could be the positive that could change Ash’s life for the better.

You can imagine my relief when this big company asked the question,

“What can we do to make Ash’s role easier for him?”

Clytie advised us the role of meter reader could be flexible. I advised the key issues which Ash struggles with. I wanted to be 100% honest with his areas of struggle - so there would be less disappointment on both sides. Clytie was able to adjust Ash’s working conditions enough to give him breathing space, therefore raising the chances of a successful working relationship, but equally important, keeping Ash employed.

This one gesture from UGL has given Ash the ability to live in his own unit, 80% financially independent. Gives him a purpose to get up and out the front door into the world, which otherwise would not happen. 

Ash said:

In my experience as a neuro-divergent person it can be quite common for companies to not really grasp everything it means for me on a day-to-day basis, and ultimately, I am still seen as just another square peg of a person slotting into their square hole of a job. And this might not even be much of an issue, but only in the short term.

What people may not realise is just how small some of the changes need to be. I wasn't looking for a hand-out, I still wanted to work. UGL listened. Things as simple as giving me options for hours and days, taking note of my social and environmental challenges and letting me work around them as best I can, and someone on staff I can go to if I am having any trouble.

I am grateful for being seen for who I am.
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