Advocates demand stronger targets for disability employment
Friday, 8th November 2019 at 4:05 pm
NDIS Minister Stuart Robert has unveiled a plan to get 30 per cent of scheme participants into work by 2023
The Morrison government must create stronger targets for disability employment and ensure all people with disability are paid fairly in their jobs, advocates say.
People with Disability Australia said while it welcomed the government’s new employment strategy for people in the National Disability Insurance Scheme, it needed to be more ambitious.
The plan – launched by NDIS Minister Stuart Robert on Thursday – set a goal of 30 per cent employment for working-age scheme participants by 30 June 2023. The rate currently sits at around 24 per cent.
“This strategy is all about giving more people with disability, who have the desire and capacity to work, better access to the right supports to achieve their employment goals while breaking down barriers that they face trying to get a job,” Robert said.
But PWDA CEO Jeff Smith told Pro Bono News he was deeply concerned that half of NDIS participants in employment were working for a few dollars an hour in Australian Disability Enterprises (ADEs), or sheltered workshops.
ADEs, which provide supported employment opportunities, have been criticised by disability advocates for paying very low wages, and because less than 1 per cent of employees move into mainstream employment.
“We want to see an end to the NDIS support for this kind of outdated and unfair work, and commit to supporting people with disability into open employment,” Smith said.
Recent data has shown just 33 per cent of NDIS recipients over 25 are working in mainstream employment at full award wages.
Smith said he was also concerned that only 53 per cent of people with disability in Australia were working compared to 82 per cent of non-disabled people.
He noted this disparity had remained constant for many years – signifying no progress had been made.
“We want to see significant work from a national jobs plan that starts to break down the barriers we face when looking for and keeping a job, such as discrimination and a lack of workplace accessibility,” he said.
The government’s employment strategy has several key focus areas, including increasing employment goals in NDIS plans, giving people with disability more control over their pathways to employment, and improving the confidence of employers to hire NDIS participants.
The National Disability Insurance Agency has also vowed to lead by example as an employer.
PWDA has previously called for a 51 per cent disability employment target across all levels of the NDIA, including senior leadership.
As of 30 June 2019, the agency has 11.85 per cent of its employees living with disability.