Disability employment paper to be released ahead of jobs summit

More employers should take on workers with disabilities, Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth says as she prepares to reform the nation’s disability employment services.

Rishworth will on Monday release the consultation report for the new Disability Employment Services model, which the previous Coalition government received earlier this year. It is one of the first papers to be released ahead of the September jobs summit, where disability employment and reducing barriers to employment will be a key topic.

Just 53.4 per cent of people with disability are in the labour force, compared with 84.1 per cent of those without disability.Credit:Izabela Habur

“Hiring someone with disability should not be seen as an optional or charitable act,” Rishworth said.

“People with disability bring diverse skills and experiences and make significant contributions to the workplace … There is an amazing, skilled workforce that is sadly underutilised. Hiring a person with disability makes good business sense and is good for the nation.”

The current Disability Employment Services program concludes on June 30 next year, and will be replaced by the new model, which the Social Services Department is currently designing, aided by the consultation report.

The report highlighted issues raised from stakeholders including the need to reduce barriers for people with disability to allow better access to employment services; better support for those participating; and the need to develop and retain an appropriately skilled workforce.

Rishworth will also host a Disability Employment Roundtable later this month, prior to the Jobs Summit.

“Through my experience as a local member and as a clinical psychologist, I am aware of issues people with disability face in gaining employment and how detrimental unemployment can be for physical, emotional and mental wellbeing,” the minister said.

“We want to work with people with disability, their families, carers and others to ensure that disability employment policies and programs are well targeted and meet the needs of people with disability.”

    National data shows almost 1 in 10 people aged 15-24 years have a disability and almost 2.1 million people with disability are of working age in Australia.

    The 2018 Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers reported that young people with disability (aged 15 to 24 years) are significantly more likely to be unemployed or underemployed than young people without disability.

    Almost a quarter (23 per cent or 224,000) of working-aged people with disability who are not in the labour force intend to work or look for work. However, 93 per cent of unemployed people aged 15-64 with disability experience difficulties in finding employment.

    The unemployment rate for people with disability is more than double that of working-age people without disability (10 per cent).

    Just 53.4 per cent of people with disability are in the labour force, compared with 84.1 per cent of those without disability. This gap of over 30 per cent has remained largely unchanged since 2003.

    The new Disability Employment Services model aims to focus on choice and control for people with disability to help them become ready for, find and maintain employment, as well as support employers to hire people with disability.

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