‘Why I had to apply for 855 jobs’

IT took four years and 855 job applications before stroke victim David Franks finally found an employer to give him a chance.

Now working for four days a week at Gold Coast University Hospital as an administrator, the former teacher said other businesses needed to start giving those with a disability a chance.

At age 44 in 2016, Mr Frank suffered his first debilitating stroke that left him severely impaired.

"I had a headache but when I got to work I couldn't speak or hold a pen, I didn't recognise what was happening so I drove home.

"It's crazy but I passed a hospital and doctors on the way. I just didn't know."

Mr Frank was told he would never walk or talk again, but taught himself to speak again.

"I hate beards and decided I wouldn't shave mine until I went a whole day with everyone understanding me."

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David Franks had applied for over 855 jobs before he finally found employment at the Gold Coast University hospital. Picture: Jerad Williams
David Franks had applied for over 855 jobs before he finally found employment at the Gold Coast University hospital. Picture: Jerad Williams

Despite his recovery, Mr Frank was unable to find employment and was deemed "too able" to qualify for Centrelink.

"For two years I handed out resumes, 855 in total. But as soon as they met me and saw I had a stroke they weren't interested.

"I did accounting courses, all sorts of certificates to prove to myself I'm not stupid."

In May that all changed when he was employed as part of the DisTinct Pathways Program which allows people living with a disability, to work in paid employment at Gold Coast Health in an area of their interest for 16 weeks.

Mr Frank said the role had given him the confidence and experience to pursue a physiotherapy degree.

"It's changed so much for me. I felt so hopeless before."

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David Franks was a high school and maths and science teacher before he suffereda stroke while at school. Picture: Jerad Williams
David Franks was a high school and maths and science teacher before he suffereda stroke while at school. Picture: Jerad Williams

Diversity and Inclusion program co-ordinator Jazmyn Brennan said the program gave people who identified with disability the safe space and support they needed to be able to ask for adjustments.

"It's not necessarily about permanent employment with us, it's about cultural change for our organisation, and personal growth for the placements," Ms Brennan said.

"People who identify with disability help us with that change and help us to learn the best way forward."

Ms Brennan said seeing people gain employment either with Gold Coast Health or externally thanks to the experience they got with the program was a great measure of success for DisTinct.

Disability Action Week is celebrated from 13 to 19 September 2020.

Originally published as 'Why I had to apply for 855 jobs'


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