Good news! A $3.3 million agreement between the Federal Government and Australian businesses has just been signed for a disability employment pilot scheme to be launched this year. The scheme has the support of the Business Council of Australia and Social Services, who are working together to link more people with disabilities with potential employers.
Many job-ready people haven’t yet been able to access to the workplace and this boost could change things for the better. More than one million Australians of working age who live with disability don’t have work, despite what the government calls its ‘significant investment’ into the sector.
If the participation rate changed for the better, the Australian economy would receive a welcome boost and we could see an easing of pressure on the disability support pension in 2023 and beyond.
More employed people with a disability not only means more taxpayers and therefore more money to inject into infrastructure, facilities, education and other supports that assist everyone’s quality of life… Most importantly, it means a better quality of life for these newly employed Australians.
Disability unemployment rate in Australia
Let’s look at some key disability unemployment rate statistics for Australia. This gives a clearer idea of the massive disparities that need to be addressed:
- 2.1 million Australians with disability are of working age
- Of this number, only 53% have jobs
- This compares to 83% of eligible workers in the broader community
- 250,000 people living with disability are eligible job candidates yet not employed
The memorandum of understanding for the disability employment pilot scheme, signed by the Albanese government and Business Council of Australia, aims to help level these disparities.
Together they aim to bring this quarter of a million people to the Australian workforce.
A word from the wise
As celebrity sportsman Dylan Alcott told Blue Badge in a recent interview: “A recommendation I have for all businesses is to start hiring people with disability.” Alcott does this in his own business ventures with great success, such as Able Foods.
Disability employment in Australia can improve but in addition to government support and buy-in from business we also need a sea-change in our culture.
Every person has different levels of ability to the next, whether living with disability or not. Someone is always stronger, healthier, more emotionally intelligent, better educated or more mentally stable than another. Additionally, we all get sick from time to time. Yet we also all deserve to be gainfully employed and employers need to provide the tools to make this viable.
As Australians, we need to see that disability is another of the many aspects of being a human being – just a differing of ability in some ways. Every individual has a unique capacity, and anyone living with a disability has the right to work in their given capacity.
With remote work becoming a common part of our culture since COVID, more people with disabilities can now more easily work from home too. This makes gainful employment a more accessible achievement for many.
Disability employment can boost our economy
“We’ve got to take an economic lens to this as a country… around $43 billion would be added to the economy if you could cut by a third the unemployment rate among #PWD. I mean that’s a pretty substantial contribution.”
– Jennifer Westacott, Business Council of Australia (tweeted by Disability Royal Commission)
This type of economic injection is what the country is missing out on. Steps to get there are relatively simple. Be more inclusive in the hiring processes and in building infrastructure that supports all-abilities employment. Promote an ethical work culture that doesn’t discriminate against people with disabilities.
Employers and HR personnel must understand the potential benefits of having Australians living with disability as part of their candidate pool. They must also understand the potential legal ramifications of discriminating against anyone with disability.
Living with one or more disabilities can make ordinary aspects of life, such as socialising or working, trickier. This means they’re hard won, and worth protecting. If you live with disability, make sure you’re aware of your rights in the workforce.
Read more on this in the Blue Badge guide to disability in the workplace.
Promoting inclusivity in the work environment
A major part of the $3.3m agreement is that Business Council of Australia members must further cultivate workplace inclusivity.
Participating businesses must address the disability employment gap in the following ways:
- Show commitment to growing the number of people with disabilities in their workforce
- Demonstrate support structures to accommodate employees with disabilities
- Improve the chance for people with disabilities to advance in their career trajectories
Hopefully this means we can look forward to a more inclusive workplace and culture in general. Whether you’re a major company or an individual understanding disability (differing ability) these improvements will improve society.
Disability shouldn’t be an impediment to employment or to the way we see one another as people. Also remember that not all disabilities can be seen. Diabetes and acquired brain injury, for example, are invisible disabilities.
Protecting mobility equipment at work and home
When it comes to physical disability, Blue Badge Insurance knows how valuable mobility equipment is to independence. Whether it’s a mobility scooter, wheelchair or modified car, having an insurance plan can help protect these.
Find out more about getting up to 25% off disability car insurance with Blue Badge. Like our car insurance, our wheelchair insurance and mobility scooter insurance plans can pay for repairs or replacement after accidental damage and theft. If you have an Assistance Dog, we know how important they are to your safety and happiness too. That’s why we also offer as much as 25% off Assistance Dogs insurance (and 15% off pet insurance).
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