When it comes to career development, Brett Anthony believes in the two Ts – technology and training.
The 45-year-old father of two from Gymea, New South Wales, is a Customer Service and Administration team leader at Rockdale City Council in southern Sydney. However, he began his career as an aircraft engineer in the Australian Air Force. He served for nine years, but left when retinitis pigmentosa (RP) caused his eyesight to deteriorate.
Brett was given the option to stay in the Air Force, but decided to go travelling. After a year overseas, Brett worked in real estate, eventually starting a company that developed sites such as shopping centres Yet his sight was rapidly failing.
“I left real estate in 1995 when I lost my sight,” he says. “I was diagnosed with RP in 1987. I went from 100% vision that year to nothing in 1995.
“When I was diagnosed, I only had a black pinprick in one eye. I didn’t think I would go blind, or it wouldn’t happen soon. When I lost all my vision I thought, ‘Well, you’d better get your act together’. I knew I had to retrain.”
Brett had his first contact with Vision Australia through out Library Information Service. In 1995 he came into the Enfield office for orientation and mobility training, and soon decided to ask to contact Vision Australia’s Employment Services, who gave him advice on applying for work – such as how to handle interviews and write a resume.
“I hit the newspapers and found a clerical position at Hawkesbury City Council,” he says. “Vision Australia came out to my office and ran JAWS [screen reading software] on my computer.”
After a year of commuting from the far south of Sydney to the city’s north, Brett started seeking work closer to home. In 2000, he found a job at Rockdale City Council in Customer Service. Again, Vision Australia was called in to adapt his work station.
Today Brett uses a host of adaptive technology and regularly contacts Vision Australia for technical advice and to keep abreast of the new products. He currently has a laptop that comes in handy at meetings, a talking watch and a voice recorder that enables him to dial phone numbers and keep track of appointments.
Brett also has a scanner that copies documents and a program that converts them to text JAWS can read.
“I really enjoy my job. I manage staff now and I’m skilling myself up a bit in that area. I hope to complete my Diploma of Business Management course in 2007.”
Brett admits that while finding work was challenging, self-belief and persistence won out, “there are people out there who will help you,” he says.
“You just have to give it a go and be confident.”