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Virtual Reality Game Launches to Engage Youth in Disability Sector

Thursday, 3rd August 2017 at 2:05 pm
Rachel McFadden
A world first immersive virtual reality work experience game designed to engage young people to work in the disability sector, has launched in Victoria.

Thursday, 3rd August 2017
at 2:05 pm
Rachel McFadden



Virtual Reality Game Launches to Engage Youth in Disability Sector
Thursday, 3rd August 2017 at 2:05 pm

A world first immersive virtual reality work experience game designed to engage young people to work in the disability sector has launched in Victoria.

Developed by not-for-profit organisation Workforce Plus, The Work Plays VR launched on Tuesday for an eight month trial period with 380 young people across Victoria.

During the trial period Workforce Plus will work with disability employers and youth employment and training agencies to introduce disengaged young people to the sector through simulated work experience.

The project, part of the federal government’s Empowering Youth initiative, has been celebrated as “cutting-edge” and “innovative” by the disability and youth sectors.

National Disability Services state manager David Moody said WorkPlays VR could be a proactive way to address the future workforce demands of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

“The WorkPlays VR could be a useful mechanism to ‘ignite’ young people to consider the disability sector as a career option – this will be increasingly important when you consider that the sector has an ageing workforce and that 70,000 new jobs need be created to 2019 to support the implementation of NDIS,” Moody said.

“In addition, with client choice and control strengthened, service delivery models are changing to include younger clients exercising their right to choose careers that better reflect their own age and interests”.

Workforce Plus CEO Bernadette O’Connor said the organisation was looking to work with youth agencies to get referrals of young people interested in participating in the trial.

She said they were also looking to work with disability providers who would be prepared to provide the young person with an actual work experience placement after they have trialled the game.

O’Connor, who has many years’ experience of working with disengaged young people, said work experience was a “critical stepping stone” for a young person to secure a job.

“This project utilises virtual reality technology to simulate work that would typically be undertaken during a work experience placement,” O’Connor said.

“It is an engagement tool that assists in moving young people closer to being ready for real work experience in a disability service organisation.”

WorkPlays VR project manager Simon Scrase said similar cases studies showed virtual reality has been successful in increasing knowledge and developing skills for real world situations.

“Research indicates that virtual reality provides new and exciting opportunity for transferring knowledge, skills and experience. Knowledge for many people is often primarily constructed through physical interactions with the real world,” Scrase said.

“VR, with its capacity to immerse participants in a real-world narrative through accurate simulations, allows knowledge and insight to be constructed through both physical and perceptual immersion.”

Carben Creative director Ben McEwing said it was “exciting” to be a part of a “forward-thinking project”.

“It shows how the use of storytelling combined with cutting-edge technology is an innovative way to entice young people into work,” McEwing said.

“Being part of a team that comprises a small NGO, creative practitioners and a forward-thinking Government department is very heartening.”

“I think we’ve produced something really special and I look forward to seeing how it evolves.”

Rachel McFadden  |  Journalist  |  @ProBonoNews

Rachel is a journalist specialising in the social sector.

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