Coalition wants to get more people with disability working in the public service
3 May 2019 at 4:41 pm
The Coalition government is aiming to almost double the rate of people with disability working in the public service by 2025, but advocates say this target does not go far enough.
Social Services Minister Paul Fletcher said on Thursday a re-elected Morrison government would introduce a 7 per cent disability employment target across the Australian Public Service (APS) to help drive cultural change in the sector.
The APS disability employment rate has fallen from 6.6 per cent in 1986 to just 3.7 per cent, and the Coalition plans to turn things around through a new disability employment strategy that would review current recruitment and assessment processes.
At disability service provider @Sunnyfield_NSW in Allambie Heights in Warringah with @TonyAbbottMHR announcing our Liberal National policy to Support People with Disability including introducing 7% employment target for people with disability in Australian Public Service by 2025 pic.twitter.com/t0RilUokrL
— Paul Fletcher (@PaulFletcherMP) May 2, 2019
While People with Disability Australia welcomed the government’s commitment, the group believes more needs to be done to stop the disability community being shut out of public sector jobs.
PWDA director of policy and advocacy Romola Hollywood said the target did not go far enough, given the consistent decline of employees with disability in the sector.
“We have called for a target of 15 per cent across the APS,” Hollywood said.
PWDA also want a 51 per cent disability employment target across all levels of the National Disability Insurance Agency, including senior leadership. Currently just 11.7 per cent of the NDIA workforce have a disability.
Hollywood said targets needed to be supported by a comprehensive strategy to address the “unacceptably low” employment rates of people with disability across the APS and in mainstream employment more generally.
PWDA have called for a National Jobs Plan to fix systemic problems that people with disability face finding and keeping a job.
This plan would include measures to strengthen the transition of young people with disability from school into tertiary education and mainstream jobs, and would integrate with the social security system to support people with episodic disability moving in and out of employment.
Hollywood noted the rate of APS employees with disability has only risen by 0.3 per cent in the last 10 years.
“A whole-of-government and whole-of-community approach is needed to enable employers to create meaningful, flexible and inclusive employment, make workplaces more accessible, remove discrimination and build positive employer and community attitudes,” she said.
A decline in public service employees with disability is not just a federal issue, with the employment rate in the New South Wales public service falling from 4.8 per cent in 2006 to 2.5 per cent in 2018.
NSW aims to raise the rate to 5.6 per cent by 2027, while Victoria has a public service disability employment target of 6 per cent by 2020 and Queensland has an 8 per cent target by 2022.
The Coalition said a re-elected Morrison government would call on all other state, territory and local governments to set “ambitious targets” for employing people with disability.