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Disability Royal Commission turns focus to employment barriers

Tags Accessibility Employment

Posted 3 weeks ago by Rebecca St Clair

The Disability Royal Commission published its latest issues paper​ to try and understand the barriers and experiences of people with disability when it comes to employment. (Source: Shutterstock)
The Disability Royal Commission published its latest issues paper​ to try and understand the barriers and experiences of people with disability when it comes to employment. (Source: Shutterstock)

The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability wants to know why people with disability earn less and are less likely to be employed.

The Chair of the Commission Ronald Sackville AO QC says, “We want to understand why people with disability are less likely to be employed and have lower incomes than people without disability.

“We also want to understand why First Nations people with disability experience higher rates of unemployment than non-Indigenous people with disability.”

The Disability Royal Commission published its latest issues paper on Tuesday to try and understand the barriers and experiences of people with disability when it comes to employment. 

The Commission noted in the issues paper that having a meaningful job with fair and equitable pay can promote the inclusion and independence of people with disability and support their right to live free from violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation. 

The Royal Commission wants to hear about people’s experiences across a wide range of employment settings including paid work, independent contracting, self-employment or apprenticeships as well as segregated employment settings and community-based enterprises in First Nations communities.

Mr Sackville says, “Our issues paper seeks to identify the barriers to employment that may prevent financial independence and other benefits associated with work, including dignity, a sense of purpose and social connectedness.”

In 2018, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers, found just over half of people with disability, 53.4 percent, were in the labour force, compared with 84.1 percent of people without disability.

The same survey also found that the median gross income for a person with disability aged 15 to 64 years was $505 per week, less than half the $1,016 per week of a person without disability.

The Commission is also seeking information about people’s experiences of discrimination at work as well as the experiences of people with disability and employers with employment programs. 

Employment programs that they mention as of interest include: 

  • National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) employment supports.

  • Department of Social Services (DSS) employment supports, including Disability Employment Services and the Employment Assistance Fund. 

  • Supported Employment, including Australian Disability Enterprises (ADEs).

They want to know whether specific programs designed to increase the employment of people with disability are easy to access, how well they assist people in finding and keeping a job, and whether any changes need to be made.

The Royal Commission is encouraging employers to provide information about their experiences with these programs and whether they help in employing and retaining people with disability.

The Royal Commission would like responses from individuals and organisations by 14 August 2020. However, they will still accept submissions after that date.

In particular, the Commission is interested to hear the experiences of women with disability, culturally and linguistically diverse people, including migrants with disability, and LGBTIQ people with disability.

Responses to the Issues Paper can be provided as audio or video recording or email to [email protected] or in writing to GPO Box 1422, Brisbane, Queensland 4001. You can also provide one via phone on 1800 517 199 or +61 7 3734 1900.

What are your experiences with finding or maintaining employment? Tell us in the comments below or send an email to [email protected].   

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