Showcasing inclusion and diversity in the tourism industry

The Tourism Taster project has brought together Disability Employment Service (DES) providers and tourism businesses to create employment opportunities for people with disability in the Cairns region.

The success of the project was showcased at an event held at the Cairns Convention Centre in early 2024.

Members of the Cairns community came together to learn more about the benefits of hiring people with disability, hear from employers who have participated in the project, and learn how to overcome stigma and barriers to create a more diverse and inclusive workplace.

Below the gallery of photos from this event, we highlight some of the employers who have been instrumental in the success of the project, as well as the participants who have found meaningful employment.

Seville Mercy Conference Centre – Zoltan

Zoltan found work as a guest liaison officer at the Seville Mercy Conference Centre through the Tourism Taster pilot. He’s in charge of keeping everything tidy, serving guests and prepping them for their upcoming conferences.

Zoltan has a hearing and visual impairment. “One of my eyes is lazy, I can’t really see out of it. One of my ears is also partially deaf.” He connected with EPIC Assist when he was trying to complete his certificate, and they helped him get this very job!

He’s surrounded by great coworkers and only has nice things to say about his bosses. “Rod and Bridie are both very experienced and flexible, two great qualities in a manager.”

According to Zoltan, work gives him two very important things: a routine and money. This new job has given him drive and purpose, and Zoltan aspires to be constantly improving his skills and impressing guests as he continues working at the conference centre.

Image: Zoltan and Samantha from Seville Mercy Conference Centre with Trudy Nagle

Rainforestation (CaPTA Group) – Leslie and Nathaniel

Leslie and Nathaniel (pictured 2nd and 3rd from left) are deaf performers who were seeking paid work.

Tourism Taster Coordinator, Trudy, worked with Nikki from Workways and DES provider Sharney from Mylestones, to organise everything they would need to succeed: interpreters, support workers, work trials, and ongoing post-placement support.

Cairns tourist destination Rainforestation (part of CaPTA Group) welcomed the men and their talent, taking every adjustment in their stride. They fit perfectly into the team, and CaPTA Group couldn’t be happier with their performance, says Joel Wale, the People and Culture Officer for CaPTA Group.

Image: Trudy Nagle and Joel Wale from CaPTA Group stand with members of the Pamagirri Aboriginal dance group

Members of the Pamagirri Aboriginal dance group stand with Trudy Nagle, Tourism Taster Coordinator, and Joel Wale from CaPTA group
Trudy and Rachel stand together, they are smiling

Cairns Convention Centre

Cairns Convention Centre has been a highly supportive partner of the Tourism Taster project, with several people with disability placed into roles at the convention centre as part of the project. These roles have included positions in various teams such as kitchen, AV, events, venue presentation and research.

Corporate Services Director Rachel O’Sullivan spoke to Channel 7 news about their involvement in the project, and creating employment opportunities for people with disability.

Image: Trudy Nagle with Rachel O’Sullivan, Corporate Services Director for Cairns Convention Centre

Cairns Convention Centre – Brett

Brett has found employment at Cairns Convention Centre (CCC) as a venue presentation attendant, through the Tourism Taster project. In this role, he ensures that the Convention Centre is always presented to guests in a clean, tidy manner.

Brett spoke about his experience being employed through Tourism Taster to Channel 7, saying that he loves working at the Convention Centre for 30 hours per week, and it helps him to pay his bills.

Image: Brett with his Employment Consultant, Nikki from Workways.

A man and women stand together and are smiling at the camera
Two men in chef attire stand in the aisle of a commercial kitchen

Cairns Convention Centre – Stephan

Stephan is a hardworking chef at Cairns Convention Centre with 35 years of experience in the hospitality industry.

After some time away due to personal circumstances, Stephan was ready to return to work. After having time to think, he knew exactly what he wanted in a job: variety and a big kitchen to thrive in. His sights set themselves on the Cairns Convention Centre (CCC), and with the collaborative efforts of CCC, Disability Employment Service provider (DES) uLaunch, and Tourism Taster, the rest is history.

“This job means everything to me, especially after my prolonged breaks after the unforeseen life situations. It was a large setback, but because I was in an environment that worked for me, I was able to recover.”

The constantly changing food and consumers of the Convention Centre gave Stephan the perfect opportunity for him to get back on the horse and re-enter the workforce.

Image: Stephan with Head Chef David Hart at the Cairns Convention Centre

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