Sunday, June 16, 2024

Employers encouraged to hire people living with a disability

The government is seeking to improve employment outcomes for people with disability and small businesses are encouraged to broaden their horizons and offer opportunities to applicants they may not have previously considered.

Speaking at the National Youth Disability Summit last week, Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth announced disability employment to be “a key plank” of the work she plans to do this year.

“I strongly believe that everyone deserves the dignity of work and the economic, social and psychological benefits that work brings,” she said.

“There is so much more we can do in this space – as a government we are looking at how we can improve employment outcomes for people with disability.”

For young people with disability, one of Ms Rishworth’s priorities is to better support the transition from school to work – so unemployment is not an issue in the first place.

“Young people with disability need the same access to work experience, part-time jobs and other opportunities to explore their employment opportunities,” she said. “Meaningful employment should be a realistic and achievable goal for everyone.”

Ms Rishworth also stressed that hiring someone with disability should not be seen as an optional or charitable act.

“People with disability bring diverse skills and experiences and make significant contributions to the workplace,” she said. “There is an amazing, skilled workforce that is sadly underutilised. Hiring a person with disability makes good business sense and is good for the nation.”

Role of retailers

The National Retail Association has supported Ms Rishworth’s comments, saying that Australian employers who are struggling with serious job shortages should hire job applicants with a disability.

“There has always been and still is an attitudinal barrier that keeps business owners from hiring people with a disability and the NRA believes the adoption of an inclusive attitude amongst businesses would actually mean prosperity for them and the economy as well,” NRA CEO Dominique Lamb said.

“The current Labour Shortage crisis is an opportunity for businesses to broaden their horizons and access individuals with a wealth of knowledge and life experience that they may not have otherwise considered.”

In recent months, major retailers have shown their support for inclusive recruitment. Coles ranked third place in the Access and Inclusion Index 2021 and Woolworths announced it would extend its mini supermarket program to 25 more sites, providing a safe and inclusive experience for participants who have learning or development delays with valuable life experiences.

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