Dylan Alcott pushes for more disability inclusion at Jobs Summit

Posted 1 year ago by Alex Jacobs
Dylan Alcott spoke passionately about employment opportunities for people with disability at the Federal Government’s Jobs and Skills Summit [Source: Twitter]
Dylan Alcott spoke passionately about employment opportunities for people with disability at the Federal Government’s Jobs and Skills Summit [Source: Twitter]

Australian of the Year and disability advocate Dylan Alcott has passionately called on the Federal Government and corporations to hire people with disability at the Jobs and Skills Summit today.

Mr Alcott opened his speech with an inclusive introduction to vision impaired followers, stating, “I’m wearing a green suit with a light green top and I’m sitting in a black wheelchair.”

From there, the self-referred “washed up tennis player” delivered a strong statement, highlighting that the workforce participation rate has not changed in almost three decades.

“I’ve counted, I’ve heard the word disability 33 times today and that didn’t happen in the past,” Mr Alcott says

“That’s really great. I’ve also heard about the massive opportunity because of the low unemployment rate and the staff shortages that are currently going on.

“We’ve had this opportunity before and we’ve dropped the ball. There are nearly 4.5 million people in this country who have some form of physical or non-physical disability, visible or invisible, and only 54% of them are involved in the workforce.

“I’m 31-years-old and that participation rate hasn’t changed in 28 years. To be honest, that’s not fair.”

During his four-minute speech in front of union representatives, employers and Government representatives, Mr Alcott expressed that many people with a disability simply have the desire to choose if they can work or not.

With just 53% of people with disability in the workforce, compared to 84% of people without a disability, Mr Alcott said that has to change.

“The time to change that isn’t now, it was yesterday,” he says, “Everybody in our sector needs to come together to make this happen.

“There are so many people with disability out there ready to have a crack. And some people want a job, for sure.

“Do you know what some people want? They want a career. They want a leadership position.

“I don’t want to scare you, but we want your seats as well. I think we deserve the opportunity to be able to thrive [in] that [position] and make our economy better as a result of that.”

Mr Alcott added that people with disabilities are also less likely to leave a job once employed and that 90% are likely to be equally or more productive than able-bodied colleagues.

Ahead of the Job and Skills Summit second day, Mr Alcott hopes those present will take on his advice, listen to people with a disability, and provide more job security for those already working.

“At the time of a pandemic or a natural disaster or a recession, who’s job goes first? People with disability jobs’, and that’s not fair,” Mr Alcott says.

“And it’s not just about getting us in the front door. It’s about creating a safe workplace once we’re there. Safe from discrimination, safe from unconscious bias, safe from abuse, from neglect.

“We all need to work together to ensure that our workplaces are safe for people with disability and one of the best ways to do that is to listen to the lived experience of people with a disability.”

The Job and Skills Summit will focus more on workforce participation, community attitudes and workplace discrimination during Friday’s sessions.