Aged and Disability Work Discrimination Inquiry
20 April 2015 at 11:29 am
A national inquiry has been launched by the Australian Human Rights Commission into employment discrimination against Older Australians and Australians with a Disability.
The Inquiry called “Willing for Work” is being conducted at the request of the Attorney-General, Senator George Brandis, and is being led by the Age and Disability Commissioner, Susan Ryan.
“Employment discrimination against older workers or people with a disability potentially affects millions of Australians and also has a significant economic and social cost to the broader community,” Senator Brandis said.
“That is why I asked Commissioner Ryan to conduct this inquiry so the Government can work with the Commission to take practical steps to reduce this pointless discrimination. It is also important that the Commission focus its priorities on issues that affect the lives of everyday Australians.
“In conducting this inquiry, the Commission will consult broadly across Australia, including with the community and with employers. The Terms of Reference for the Inquiry ( below) request the Commission to make recommendations on action or legislative change which the Government should take to address employment discrimination against older Australians and Australians with disability.
Commissioner Ryan said the Willing to Work inquiry is most timely as employment rates for both older people and those with disability remain unacceptably low.
“Research by Deloitte shows that increasing the older workforce by 5 per cent would bring an extra $48 billion annually to Australia’s GDP,” she said.
“While about a quarter of the population is older, they make up just 16 per cent of the workforce. Australians with a disability make up 15 per cent of the working age population, but only 10 per cent of them have jobs.
“The inquiry will seek to identify the barriers that prevent people from working, and in consultation with employers, affected individuals and other stakeholders establish strategies to overcome these barriers.”
Ryan said the Inquiry will publish an issues paper soon, and call for submissions and plans for consultations around the country.
“We hope to engage employers of all sizes across public and private employment as well as older people and people with disability themselves and their representative organisations. We will have the cooperation of the relevant Government departments. The common goal is to improve opportunities for those experiencing workplace discrimination and maximise human potential to the benefit of all of us,” Ryan said.
Commission President, Professor Gillian Triggs agreed that there is much work to be done in this area.
“Each year, one in three discrimination complaints we receive is related to the Disability Discrimination and a third of those relates to employment. There are clearly significant barriers for older Australians as well – 60 per cent of people who complain to us under Age Discrimination do so due to treatment at work or trying to get work,” said Professor Triggs.
The Inquiry will conclude and report by July 2016.