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With over 62,000 staff working in 1,300 different clubs across NSW, the clubs industry is one of the state's biggest employers.

CEO of ClubsNSW, Anthony Ball is acutely aware of the benefits of hiring people with disability, and the potential costs of ignoring such a large proportion of the work force.

“There are really good business reasons why you would actively seek out and employ someone with disability. With 20% of our community having a disability in NSW, we surely can’t set aside a fifth of our community. At Clubs NSW we want to recruit the very best people, and the way to do that is to have a strategy and a plan to attract and keep people with disability - they can be our best employees.”

One such employee is Rhys Baxter who for the last three years has worked on reception at the Canada Bay Club - a thriving, multi-faceted club in Five Dock, NSW. Rhys has been a wheelchair user since the age of 18 when a car accident left him with paraplegia, but it certainly hasn’t stopped him from making a huge contribution to the Canada Bay Club. As a NSW state representative in wheelchair basketball, Rhys has a strong work ethic to go with his outgoing personality and happy disposition. Being the first person that patrons see when they walk through the front door, Rhys has a key role to play in shaping their experience. The importance of Rhys to the business isn’t lost on General Manager Douglas Kirkham. “He’s just the right person for our foyer experience. He sets the tone for patrons and staff when they walk in through the front door.”

With a significant number of people with disability being employed by clubs across the state, Anthony sees it as a way to foster a culture of innovation, “We don’t want to be an echo chamber where everyone looks the same and thinks the same and takes the same approach to all issues, and what better way to gain diversity than to employ someone with disability. One needs to tap into every section of the labour pool to try and obtain the best possible candidates.”

When asked about the benefits of having Rhys in one of the most important roles in the business Douglas says “Charity doesn’t even come into the equation or the consideration. It’s just simply about making sure you’ve got the best person for the job available when you need them.”

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Last updated: 24 Sep 2019