By Craig Menzies, General Manager Catering, Optus Stadium

The Hospitality Disability Network of Western Australia (HDNWA) pilot program was launched at Crown Perth earlier this month, an important industry-led initiative that will deliver employment outcomes for those with disability in WA’s hospitality venues. 

Launched on the International Day of People with Disabilities by WA Deputy Premier Roger Cook and three time Paralympic gold medallist Kurt Fearnley, the Network has been established to develop and foster a community of like-minded companies with a collective commitment to create job opportunities and pathways into employment for people with disability. 

Kurt Fearnley (pictured left) threw his weight behind the initiative and endorsed the HDNWA as a unique opportunity to support Western Australians living with a disability. 

Even before the first ball was bowled at our inaugural event In January 2018, Optus Stadium implemented a Disability Employment Plan.  

Now in conjunction with the HDN, we can build confidence among key industry stakeholders to be a leading employer of people with disabilities, something that is both aspirational and achievable.

Optus Stadium is one of the founder members of the HDN, and the Network now consists of five other large hospitality employers – Crown Perth, The Marriot Group, Intercontinental Hotels Group, AHS Hospitality and The Hospitality Group.  

While Roger Cook and Kurt Fearnley were the guest speakers with star power, I was proud that one of our own employees that we have employed through the program in retail catering, teenager Zayden Hutton (pictured below), spoke so well at the launch.

While he confessed to being nervous, you would never have guessed it.  He spoke with confidence in a room full of hospitality industry leaders and conducted several interviews with media as if he had been doing it his whole life.  

Zayden talked about his battle with PTSD and how working at Optus Stadium had given him confidence and a sense of purpose in life.

Optus Stadium has already employed 44 staff through the HDN and we know that when we empower people through employment that the benefits go well beyond just the individual.

Sustainable employment delivers benefits to families, the broader community and importantly, employers derive long-term benefits as well.

As an HDN Board Member, this is one of the most worthwhile initiatives I have been involved in and we will be sharing our knowledge with our corporate partners and encouraging them to become members.