The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection fully recognises the need to support staff and promote disability awareness and has been very proactive in the provision of training and support in this area in recent years, with a very proactive response from staff.
The Department supports its staff by offering a suite of disability awareness training, including Mental Health and Deaf Awareness, Dealing with Blind Customers as well as general Disability Awareness. The Department also offers courses to staff in Suicide Awareness via Safe Talk, Suicide Prevention via ASIST along with courses in Personal Resilience. These courses are available to all staff in the Department, including staff in Intreo Centres. Since 2013, over 4,000 staff have attended training courses in these areas.
In addition, e-learning courses developed for front line public servants by the National Disability Authority (NDA) and the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) are freely available to all staff via the Department’s Staff Development Unit’s intranet site. Bespoke, ad hoc training is also be procured where required.
In conjunction with the Mental Health Ireland (MHI), the Disability Federation of Ireland (DFI) and the Civil Service Employee Assistance Service (CSEAS), Mental Health Awareness Workshops have been held in a variety of locations. These workshops provide tools and strategies to enhance mental health and well-being, increase awareness and understanding and promote the range of formal and informal supports and resources available.
My Department has a dedicated Disability Liaison Officer to support staff with disabilities together with their managers. The Officer offers support and promotes awareness of disability issues and services amongst staff while also facilitating the Department’s active participation in the Irish Association for Supported Employment’s Job Shadow Initiative and AHEAD’s Willing Able Mentoring Programme. The Department also provides translation, interpretive and Irish Sign Language services as required and is committed to the provision of information in alternative formats where feasible, as outlined in the Department’s Customer Charter.
Induction and Orientation training for newly appointed staff outlines the range of Departmental supports and grant-aid available to both staff and clients with disabilities. These include employment supports for jobseekers with disabilities such as the Wage Subsidy Scheme, EmployAbility Services and the Reasonable Accommodation Fund, in addition to the Civil Service Employee Assistance Service.
Ongoing liaison with the National Disability Authority and the Disability Federation of Ireland ensures that information on relevant events and seminars is communicated to Departmental staff.
The Department continues with its extensive training, development and awareness in this area. It is estimated that the annual cost of providing disability awareness training to all staff in Intreo Centres is approximately €90,000.