My disability cost me my dream job

Last updated 11:00 09/05/2014

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Do New Zealanders accept difference?

The silent victims of disability issues The problem with looking 'normal' 'You wouldn't know my brain was misfiring' Disabled face discrimination, hardship Be thankful for your benefits Disabled workers need more support My disability cost me my dream job Disability? I've got a DIFFability Being disabled isn't a disaster I'm disabled, and everything's fine

I dream of being a nurse.

Unfortunately, after an accident which left me a paraplegic, I was not allowed to continue studying to become a nurse.

Hearing this, after already having my life turned upside down, was just devastating.

While I agree whole heartedly I could not do every aspect of nursing, there are so many jobs I could do. However, I could not gain registration as I was deemed "unfit to practice".

This barrier seems to only be in New Zealand. Overseas there are nurses with all kinds of disabilities working in a variety of jobs within the profession. They are able to gain a limited scope of registration which enables them to work in certain sectors within the industry.

There is no reason why I could not nurse in New Zealand other than the Nursing Council has operated by the same set of rules and guidelines for so long they are not prepared to change them.

Does New Zealand accept difference? It certainly doesn't feel like it. While on paper we may have equal rights to education and employment, in reality these rights are not being met.

As a disabled person I want to be able to be productive and contribute to society, but instead society places so many barriers on who can add productivity and unfortunately, disabled people don't make the cut.

Another point that really illustrates the lack of acceptance in New Zealand is the issue of disclosure when applying for employment. It is commonly debated on whether you put that you have a disability in your CV or cover letter, or whether you wait until the interview. If difference was accepted in New Zealand this issue would not exist.

Until the day comes where it no longer matters whether you have a disability or not, I do not feel that we can say 'we as New Zealanders accept difference'.

Paula Booth works for the Disabled Persons Assembly NZ.

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