National award win for Dane, who is profoundly deaf

Australian-born Dane Eralp always dreamed of a big life. Born profoundly deaf, the former job seeker finds communication especially challenging, and English is her second language.

Determined to show what a person with disability and limited English skills could achieve, Dane dug deep to overcome her barriers to employment. She persevered through years of set-backs to achieve her career goals, and has won the ‘Achiever of the Year’ award at the 2022 National Employment Services Association (NESA) Awards for Excellence.

A difficult journey through school

After Dane’s family returned to Turkey when she was age six, her school education began but it was difficult.

“I was the only deaf person in school, so it was hard. I am not great at literacy. Communication is a challenge for me. I am not fluent in either English or Turkish,” Dane said.

Dane left school at age 14. Determined to not let her disability limit or define her, she persevered through studies to qualify as a hairdresser. Then found work with an inclusive employer who helped her communicate with clients and expand her skillset.

“I got a job at Canan Kuafor for 11 years…When the salon needed additional services, I started doing waxing, manicures, pedicures, beauty services. I was working seven days, doing everything in the salon.”
Yet life in Turkey was hard. In 2010, 26-year-old Dane moved back to Australia with her family.

Overcoming set-backs

After arriving in Australia, Dane received a Disability Support Pension and started looking for work. With 11 years experience, she thought she would find something. Yet no one would employ her, even after she completed a Certificate III in Hairdressing at Kangan Institute in Melbourne and spent two years at Vicdeaf learning Auslan.

“I wanted to learn English, but it was hard as a deaf person to lip read. Then I did a basic English course. I had an interpreter so that was good.”

Dane resolved not to let her disability get in the way of her career. When she joined MatchWorks in 2021, she had already approached around 30 hair salons directly with no success, while casually working in her father’s kebab shop.

Finding a life-changing job

With the help of her mother and the MatchWorks Disability Employment team in Sunshine, Dane finally found the career opportunity she was looking for. Local salon Endless Hair in Essendon is a multi-cultural, friendly and creative work environment; and Salon Director, Eddie speaks Turkish.

“I’m more energetic, happy and more social,” Dane said. “I really enjoy the positive feedback I have received from my customers – this encourages me to work harder…My life now has purpose and I’m very happy to be in my dream job.”

“Dane is a great hairdresser,” Salon Owner, Sally Akbulut said. “We are so blessed to have her part of our team. We hope to be together for many years to come.”

Congratulations to Dane for winning the 2022 NESA ‘Achiever of the Year’ Award. Winners were announced at the NESA Awards for Excellence Gala dinner in Sydney, Wednesday 5 October, 2022.