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People with Disability Australia
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Time for real action on jobs
for people with disability
  Friday 17 April 2015
Dear ,
 
This week there has been a renewed focus on economic participation for people with disability with the launch of an Australian Human Rights Commission inquiry into employment discrimination and an address on disability employment by Senator The Hon. Mitch Fifield, Assistant Minister for Social Services.
 
PWDA welcomes this renewed focus and looks forward to working with governments and business to make sure there is real action on jobs for people with disability.
 
There have been a number of inquiries and reviews into disability employment issues in the past, but there has not been enough action.  PWDA believes this week’s developments must be a catalyst for the creation of a long overdue jobs action plan.
 
We’ve been consistently campaigning for change
For a number of years we have been calling for the creation of a comprehensive jobs plan to ensure people with disability in the workforce can participate in the workforce.
 
A jobs plan is at the heart of our Get real on jobs employment policy, along with a call for governments and business across Australia to work together and commit to creating 200,000 jobs for people with disability across the country by 2023.  
 
As part of this policy we have also called for:                               
  • Governments to lead by example and increase employment targets for people with disability in public service positions;
  • An end to the Australian Disability Enterprise (ADEs) model of segregated employment and transition to a new model that would create genuine training opportunities to get people with disability mainstream jobs. We are also pursuing this through our Wage Justice campaign;
  • Governments to adopt accessible procurement policies directed towards employers that demonstrate best practise in the employment of people with disability;
  • Reporting on the numbers of people employed by private sector and not for profit organisations required in these organisations annual reports;
  • Comprehensive tax offsets for the costs of mainstream supports like costs of tailored clothing, taxis or maintaining a car, which people with disability may encounter in order to maintain employment;
  • Reform of Disability Employment Services (DES) to ensure people with disability have more control over employment support they need to find work
In addition to these recommendations, in our 2015 NSW State Election platform we also called for initiatives, such as the development of an annual Disability Employment Report Card, which would outline progress towards achieving targets in private and public sector employment, and rank organisations that are leading the way on employment of people with disability. 
 
Employment System reform is a critical component of jobs plan          
 
In his address Senator Fifield said “I am interested over the next 18 months to consult with you and the community about a new model for disability employment. There needs to be significant change to achieve better employment outcomes for people with disability.” 
 
PWDA welcomes the Senator’s comments and agree that major reform of the employment system, including DES, is needed and must be an important part of a future jobs plan.
 
 
We look forward to working with the government and business on developing policies to improving employment services for people with disability.
 
Call for jobs plan echoed in Welfare Review
Recommendations in the recently released McClure Review into Australia’s Welfare System also call for the creation a jobs plan which includes measures that echo much of what PWDA has been calling for.
 
This includes:
  • Tailored support services, including integrating employment services with mental health services;
  • An awareness raising and education campaign to promote the benefits of employing people with disability;
  • Awards to recognise positive employment practice across different sectors;
  • Targets across government for employment of people with disability;
  • Government procurement from organisations with a strong track record of employing people with disability;
  • Promotion of improved, streamlined wage subsidies for businesses who employ people with disability for up to 12 months.
What we already know
 
The labour force participation rate for those aged 15-64 years with disability in 2012 was 52.8%, much lower than that for those without disability (82.5%).
 
Even the Australian Public Service is guilty of being a poorly performing employer, with the percentage of employees who have a disability dropping from 4.8% in 1999 to just 3.1% in 2014.
 
Australia lags behind many comparable nations when it comes to employment participation of people with disability.
 
As a result, Australia currently ranks 26 out of 27 OECD countries for the percentage of people with disability living in poverty, with 45% of people with disability in our country living near or below the poverty line. 
 
Challenges need to be addressed
Attitudinal barriers and discriminatory practices persist, with many employers reticent to hire people with disability due to a lack of disability awareness, poor knowledge of employment support options and the misplaced fear of cost implications. 
 
Some people with disability are marginalised from the workforce just because they are unable to access public infrastructure such as transport, buildings and workplaces.   
 
For many people, costs associated with their disability (like taxi fares) means that they can end up financially worse off after moving from the Disability Support Pension (DSP) into employment - especially if moving into a casual job or a low wage position.
 
About the Human Rights Commission inquiry
 
Requested by Federal Attorney-General George Brandis, the inquiry will be led by Age and Disability Discrimination Commissioner Susan Ryan and report on its findings and recommendations by July 2016.
 
The Inquiry will shortly publish an issues paper, a call for submissions and plans for consultations across Australia.
 
 
If you would like to find out more information about the inquiry and our Get real on jobs policy you can contact our Advocacy Projects Manager Sam French by emailing samanthaf@pwd.org.au or by calling 9370 3126.
 
Links and resources                                                                                                 
- Our Get real on jobs policy
 
- Our 2015 NSW State Election platform call to deliver on jobs and training
 
- Our response to the McClure Review into Australia’s Welfare System
 
- Easy English summary of the McClure Review
 
- Willing to Work inquiry website
 
- Watch the launch of Willing to Work on YouTube (transcript unavailable) www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jiti3XvRMRs
 
- 2006 Australian Human Right Commission National Inquiry into Employment and Disability
 
- Our response to a 2013 Discussion Paper on Improving the Employment Participation of People with Disability in Australia
 
- Senator The Hon. Mitch Fifield, Assistant Minister for Social Services, Address to Disability Employment Australia leader’s forum
 
IMAGE: A person's hand holding a red marker. They are using the marker to cross out the letters 'U' and N' from the word 'UNEMPLOYED'. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
IMAGE: Different coloured letters spelling out the word 'Jobs'. They are pinned to a noticeboard.
 
 
If you want to receive these emails as text-only with no graphics or images at all, please email pwd@pwd.org.au or call on one of the numbers listed below and speak to the Communications Manager.
People with Disability Australia (PWDA)
www.pwd.org.au (02) 9370 3100 1800 422 015