The Federal Government has announced an additional $45.7 million investment to extend two programs dedicated to helping young people with mental illness and disability join the workforce.
Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Ruston says the funding will be used to double the number of headspace sites, a national youth mental health foundation that runs the evidence-based Individual Placement and Support Program (IPS), to 50, and to support headspace National to continue the Digital Work and Study service.
Work is also underway on developing a new National Disability Employment Strategy which will consider the diverse range of barriers for people with physical, neurological and intellectual disability, as well as mental health issues, when entering the workforce.
2016 Australian Paralympian of the Year Dylan Alcott OAM and Chancellor of Monash University Simon McKeon AO have been appointed as the joint Chairs of the new Disability Employment Advisory Committee to help develop this strategy.
"When I speak to employers they all say they understand the benefits of employing people with disability or mental illness, but when it comes down to making decisions about who to employ the data shows these positive attitudes are not translating into outcomes," says Minister Ruston.
"We must ensure we continue to work toward our goal for an inclusive Australian society that enables all Australians to gain and maintain employment."
The expansion of the IPS program will allow more than 6,000 young people under the age of 25 experiencing mental illness to receive specialist vocational and employment support in tandem with clinical treatment to find and keep a job over the next four years.
"Almost 3,000 young people participated in a trial across both programs with around 40 percent of participants successfully finding a job as a result," says Minister Ruston.
"This program has never been more important given this year we have seen young people disproportionately affected by COVID-19 in terms of jobs losses, which we know can compound the mental health impact so many are feeling as a result of the pandemic."
The Disability Employment Advisory Committee will ensure the Government leverages from a broad range of expertise, including people with a disability, to improve employment outcomes.
Co-chair Dylan Alcott OAM says it’s an honour to be a part of the Advisory Committee, which helps people with disability find meaningful employment and live the lives they deserve.
"We have assembled a great group of people with diverse experiences and thoughts and we plan to develop real, tangible outcomes that change perceptions and create opportunities for the millions of people with disability across Australia," he says.
Professor Patrick McGorry, Executive Director of Orygen which runs the IPS program with headspace and Advisory Committee members, welcomed the Government’s commitment to making a real lasting difference in the lives of people who face barriers to work.
"The onset of mental illness often occurs in young people which, by the age of 25, can significantly affect their ability to transition from study to work," says Professor McGorry.
"IPS has demonstrated that providing career assistance hand-in-hand with clinical support can make a profound difference in the lives of young Australians and ensure they can reach their full potential."
"I am also pleased to be a member of the Government’s Advisory Committee which will help map out a long-term strategy to better support people with disability into the workforce."
For an updated list of IPS sites, visit the Department of Social Services’ website.