A new report identifies three main barriers which inhibit workforce participation by people with disabilities, and suggests some ways to remove them.
"Workability II: Solutions", a Report of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission's National Inquiry into Employment and Disability, urges the private sector, community groups and people with a disability to work with governments to improve workplace opportunity and earning potential for people with a disability.
The Report was released in February 2006, following a National Inquiry into the low employment rates and earning potential for people with a disability.
The Inquiry found that the Federal and State/Territory Governments need to do more to provide support, services and incentives to employers and to people with disabilities to ensure true equality of opportunity in the workplace.
The Report identified three main barriers which inhibit workforce participation by people with disabilities:
an absence of easily accessible and detailed information and advice for people in the community, including employers, about the ongoing needs of people with disabilities;
concerns about the cost of workforce participation for people with disabilities; and
concerns about the possible financial and personal impact on people with a disability and their employers, particularly if the person is not suited to the job.
Having identified potential barriers to workforce participation, the Report focuses on the recommendations of the Inquiry, which are aimed at increasing government support as well as educating and encouraging the private sector and community groups to improve employment conditions for people with a disability.
In total, the Report contains 30 recommendations aimed at combating the concerns identified as barriers to workforce participation and for improving workplace opportunities for people with disabilities.
The recommendations include:
creating a unified approach for consultation between Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments, to develop, facilitate and disseminate comprehensive and educative information about the capabilities and the needs of people with disabilities;
conducting research on the economic costs of disability to people with a disability in the workforce, and the costs of providing better employment services to assist them in the workforce;
easing any current burdens on people with a disability which may prevent them from entering the workforce, by extending eligibility for health care concessions, increasing the Mobility Allowance to allow for reimbursement of the cost of transport to and from work, promoting flexible working hours and improving transition to work schemes; and
the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations providing a "one-stop information shop", accessible to people with a disability, and which gives information about private agencies and non-government organisations that offer employment services support.
Impact of the Report
In accordance with the Inquiry's recommendation for the need for further government support, the Commonwealth Government has agreed to establish a "one-stop information shop" to provide a central information point for people with a disability and their employers. The Department will be responsible for its operation.
Thanks to Christa Lenard for her help in writing this article.
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