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Breaking down barriers for disability key to solving labour shortages?

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By Published On: October 5, 20220 Comments

The Federal government has formally announced their latest financial push to enable greater access to employment opportunities for Australians with disabilities in a move that could serve to assist industries such as retail suffering with high rates of job vacancies.

Job vacancies overall declined slightly in August from levels seen in May of this year, but have nonetheless risen considerably in the same period for industries including retail, delivery and logistics, and hospitality. In an announcement that could offer some relief for employers in these industries preparing for busy holiday periods and grappling with labour shortages leaving open holes in their workforce, the Federal Labor government has announced the commencement of their awarding of $20 million in grant funding designed to enable better access to employment for Australians living with a disability. 

The grant program will seek to assist employers in building their abilities to assist and support employees with disabilities and offer greater inclusive environments, with funding boosts for the successful applicants ranging from $439,000 to $815,000. Funding will be awarded to organisations prepared to assist employers in making necessary changes and amendments to better enable them to hire prospective employees with disabilities.

It is understood that almost one in five Australians suffer from some form of disability, with adults suffering from disabilities almost six percent more likely to live in poverty than those without a disability, often as a result of difficulties either finding or maintaining employment due to their disabilities. Labour force participation rates, for example, differ considerably for those living with a disability in Australia compared to those without.

Only 53 percent of working-age Australians living with a disability are currently in the labour force, it is understood, compared to 84 percent of those without a disability. The latest news from Australia’s government seeks to amend not only this issue, but provide relief to industries and employers grappling with ongoing labour shortages.

“The Australian Government is committed to a better life for Australians with disability including improving the connection between education and employment to drive real, tangible life outcomes for people with disability,” said Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth on Wednesday, “This includes working to support employers to understand and work with people with disability to create inclusive workplace cultures that allow people with disability to thrive.”

“Hiring a person living with disability should not be seen as a charitable act. It makes good business sense.”

Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme Bill Shorten offered similar sentiments, reinforcing the importance for employers and businesses to recognise the opportunities available to them by seeking to employ and support Australians living with a disability.

“We know that finding and keeping a job, alongside work and career opportunities are often rated as the most important issues for people with disability,” said Shorten, “Only 53 per cent of people with disability are in the labour force compared with 84 per cent of those without disability. There is a pool of talented people available and we all need to work together to break down the barriers that stop them from gaining and retaining meaningful employment.”

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