Media Release: Tear down barriers stopping people with disability getting a job

People with disability face discrimination, a lack of accessibility and flexibility when trying to get a job, and that needs to change.

“Today we’re releasing our plan to start to tear down the barriers that stop people with disability getting and keeping a job,” said Jeff Smith, CEO, People with Disability Australia.

“Our $100 million proposal is a down payment in the economic future of people with disability across Australia.”

Only 53% of people with disability of working age are in paid work, compared to 82% of their non-disabled peers. This gap has not changed over decades. When compared with other Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, Australia ranks 21 out of 29 in employment participation rates for people with disability.

“We know that many people with disability find that outdated attitudes, a lack of flexibility and accessibility can make getting and keeping a job incredibly hard,” said Mr Smith.

“We want to see the Australia Government develop a National Jobs Plan for people with disability, that looks at every barrier, and every part of the employment picture. This Plan needs funding, and to not just be a talk fest. People with disability need to see action.”

Less than 25% of people with disability with an NDIS plan are in work, and half of those people are working for a few dollars an hour in sheltered workshops, or Australian Disability Enterprises (ADEs).

“As part of the National Jobs Plan, we want to see a fund set up to start to transition people with disability out of sheltered workshops, and into open employment where they are paid a decent wage, instead of a few dollars an hour,” said Mr Smith.

“We also want the NDIS to move away from supporting sheltered workshops, and to provide the supports so that people with disability can get out of poverty through employment.”

“Employer attitudes to people with disability can be a huge barrier to hiring us, and to giving us the flexibility and supports we may need at work. We want to see a strong national advertising campaign to tackle discrimination in the workplace, and to change these attitudes,” said Mr Smith.

“Job Access is the program that provides accessible equipment at work. We are calling for significantly increased investment, as well as making the program available for job seekers.”

“We believe that the measures outlined in our plan will contribute significantly to removing the barriers people with disability face, and make it possible for many people with disability to enter and stay in employment.”