National labour shortage creates opportunities for people with disability

In a hi-vis vest paired with a wide-brimmed hat, Shawn Greenshields ‘puts his heart and soul’ into his job delivering pamphlets and flyers to homes in the Forster/Manning region for real estate agent, Laing and Simmons.

The 29-year-old Tuncurry man, who lives with an intellectual disability, has been working eight hours per week for the past four months and says the letterbox drop is a job he thoroughly enjoys.

"It's a good job to work here," Mr Greenshields said. “It gives me independence and it’s nice to earn some money.”

Shawn is supported by not-for-profit, employment, training and apprenticeships provider, VERTO, as part of the Australian Government’s Disability Employment Services (DES) program.

VERTO provides mentoring to Shawn through regular meetings and supplies him with petrol vouchers so he can use his car for letterbox deliveries each week.

According to VERTO National Disability Coordination Officer, Tammy Flannagan, clients like Shawn are capable of holding down employment if given the opportunity.

“According to a 2022 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report, working-age people with disability are twice as likely to be unemployed as those without disabilities.,” Ms Flanagan said

“Our job is to educate employers and find opportunities for our clients to contribute to workplaces in meaningful ways while earning an income.

“And given the national labour shortage, now is the time for the workforce to better reflect the Australian community,” she said.

Laing+Simmons Manning Valley Director, Alex Cosway, said the team is extremely proud of Shawn’s effort, attitude and his proactive approach to his employment with Laing+Simmons.

“Shawn is a valuable part of our team and the opportunity for him to grow both personally and professionally through his employment is rewarding for both myself, and no doubt, for him,” Mr Cosway said.

To mark International Day of People Living with Disability (3 December), VERTO CEO Ron Maxwell said it’s important to understand inclusion is more than just removing barriers to people's access.

“There are more than 2.1 million Australians living with a disability, yet only 53 per cent of those who are working age are employed,” Mr Maxwell said.

“In fact, Australia ranks 21st out of 29 Organisation for Economic Development (OECD) countries when it comes to employing people with disability, yet research shows that recruiting from this community is a good thing for all of us – the individual, the business, and the Australian economy.

“For individuals with a disability, employment brings increased economic security, independence, a greater sense of self-worth, and engagement with the community.

“Employing people with a disability is also a good thing for any business itself. Research shows that businesses employing a person with a disability typically find the employee highly motivated, less likely to take absences or be involved in work safety related incidents, and more like to stay with the business long-term.

“International Day of People Living with a Disability is the ideal time to encourage our local businesses to access support through external systems like Disability Employment Services to make their workplaces more accessible,” he said.

To find out more how VERTO can support you in disability employment, click here:


VERTO is a community owned, not-for-profit organisation delivering a range of apprenticeship, community support, employment and training services to assist individuals, employers and industries. We can be found in over 60 locations across the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales and Victoria. For more information, visit