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Job taken off table night before interview

A man living with cerebral palsy was told he would not be able to do the job he was scheduled to interview for the following day, an inquiry has been told.

On Tuesday, the Disability Royal Commission heard from 25-year-old Oliver Hunter.

He told commissioners he had applied for a job as a residential adviser at his university and received a call from the head of campus the night before his interview.

“I went into his office and he told me pretty directly that due to my physical restrictions I won’t be able to do the job,” he said.

It included doing rounds to check on other students, and Mr Hunter believed he could make the role work.

“He wasn’t coming to that party with me,” he said.

At the end of the conversation Mr Hunter said he was told they could talk more during the interview the following day.

Earlier he told commissioners his first job at a supermarket felt tokenistic and one of his tasks was to dust the top of fruit tins.

“Because we all know its important to have dust-free fruit tins when you put them in the back of your cupboard for four years,” he said.

Mr Hunter now works as an associate with a disability advocacy agency Get Skilled Access.

He also works as a Consumer Investigator with a research team at the Australian Catholic University, and hopes to continue a career in stand-up comedy having performed in the US and Melbourne.

He told commissioners he felt people with disabilities had to “be extraordinary to be ordinary”, citing the experiences of sportspeople Dylan Alcott and Kurt Fearnley.

“When I was younger, I felt this pressure sometimes that if I want to be noticed and relevant, I have to have a gold medal or go to the Paralympics or do something extraordinary,” he said.

Mr Hunter is involved in the Dylan Alcott Foundation’s Remove the Barrier campaign highlighting invisible hurdles to gaining employment.

He encouraged employers to ask questions about accessibility and capability during the interview stage so both parties felt comfortable from the beginning.

Seventeen witnesses are giving evidence to the week-long hearing of the Disability Royal Commission, which is investigating barriers to employment.

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