“HiddenGems” – empowering Australia’s Deaf community through entrepreneurship education

Gemstar partners with Access Plus for HiddenGems entrepreneurship educatio

Gemstar partners with Access Plus for HiddenGems entrepreneurship education

Friday 11 September 2020, Perth, Australia. Deaf and Hard of Hearing adults are more likely to be unemployed or under-employed and typically face many obstacles in their careers, from workplace challenges to discrimination. To address this, Gemstar and Access Plus have joined forces to bring entrepreneurship education and training to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community. Following a highly successful pilot last year, the HiddenGems program is being offered for the first time nationally this year kicking off on 14 September with confirmed participants from every state.

This first-of-its-kind program aims to empower its participants through real-world entrepreneurship education, training and opportunities. At a time of global uncertainty, traditional career pathways are rapidly changing, and people are approaching their professional lives differently. The program, derived from Gemstar’s award-winning YoungGems program equips the Deaf and Hard of Hearing with essential and invaluable skills that are required to start and run a business, creating self-employment and employment for others. 

Gemma Manning, Founder and CEO of Gemstar and creator of the program said, “We’re delighted to bring our internationally acclaimed program to the national stage for the first time, supporting the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community across Australia. Entrepreneurship still lacks diversity. As leaders, we need to change this and open it up to everyone. We firmly believe that entrepreneurship education should be accessible to everyone, and we are determined to make it this a reality. 

“Being equipped with skills to help you create and run a business is incredibly empowering especially during these difficult times. We look forward to continuing to nurture Australia’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing community foster innovative solutions to real-world problems.” 

Gemstar’s partner Access Plus WA Deaf is a profit for purpose organisation known for supporting the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in WA since 1921. It is a recipient of a combined Commonwealth and Western Australian government NDIS Information, Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC) grant to increase employment opportunities for people with disability.

Annette Perrin, Acting CEO of Access Plus WA Deaf said, “We’re excited to once again collaborate with Gemstar to bring this program to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community nationally following tremendous success in our pilot last year”.

Mrs Perrin said that there is a global trend, buoyed by innovative technology, of Deaf and Hard of Hearing people opening their businesses or becoming part of the gig economy. However, we haven’t seen this happen to the same level yet in Australia. Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals can be socially isolated and economically disadvantaged. With the current global pandemic, we are seeing more members of the community becoming further isolated. 

“The HiddenGems program will prepare Deaf or Hard of Hearing people in learning new skills through entrepreneurship education coupled with mentoring, training and strategic guidance and help Deaf-owned or operated businesses become successful based on their unique circumstances.” ~ENDSAny person who is Deaf, culturally Deaf, or Hard of Hearing and wishes to learn more about the HiddenGems entrepreneurship education program can contact Access Plus WA Deaf at or at 9441 2677. For media enquiries, please contact Adam Kinnest at or at (08) 6381 9110

Additional background information:

  • One in six Australians currently are Deaf or Hard of Hearing.
  • Nearly half of them were working age (16-64 years).
  • A Deaf and Hard of Hearing individual earns an average of $10K less than hearing people.
  • Labour force participation rates decrease substantially as the degree of deafness increases.
  • Employment rates for Deaf and Hard of Hearing people are 20.5% lower for men and 16.5% lower for women.
  • Deaf – with a capital “D” – is used to refer to people who are culturally Deaf. They actively use Sign Language; they see themselves as being culturally Deaf and part of the Deaf community. The use of the “lowercase d” deaf simply refers to the medical attributes of deafness.

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Gemma Manning
Founder, strategic marketer, educator and author of ‘About This Girl’.

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