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‘We need to see action’: Disability advocates present plan to end barriers to work


17 February 2020 at 4:50 pm
Maggie Coggan
The plan has been labelled a down payment on the future of people with disability 


Maggie Coggan | 17 February 2020 at 4:50 pm


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‘We need to see action’: Disability advocates present plan to end barriers to work
17 February 2020 at 4:50 pm

The plan has been labelled a down payment on the future of people with disability 

With just 53 per cent of working age people with disability in paid work, a peak disability body is launching a $100 million plan to help more people with disability land, and keep a job. 

The plan, released on Monday by People With Disability Australia (PWDA), is calling for the federal government to develop a national jobs plan that will look at “every barrier, and every part of the employment picture”. 

This includes a fund set up to transition people with disability out of sheltered workshops and into open employment that pays a decent wage, and for the National Disability Insurance Scheme to move away from supporting sheltered workshops. 

Moving people with disability into open employment has been an ongoing issue for disability advocates. Over half of the people on NDIS plans who are in work, are working in sheltered workshops where wages can be as low as a few dollars an hour. 

The plan is also calling for a national advertising campaign to tackle disability discrimination in the workplace and increased funding for Job Access – a government program aimed at driving disability employment.    

Jeff Smith, PWDA CEO, said the plan was a down payment in the economic future of people with disability across Australia.

“We know that many people with disability find that outdated attitudes, a lack of flexibility and accessibility can make getting and keeping a job incredibly hard,” Smith said. 

“We believe that the measures outlined in our plan will contribute significantly to removing the barriers people with disability face, and make it possible for many people with disability to enter and stay in employment.”

Compared with other OECD countries, Australia ranks 21 out of 29 in employment participation rates for people with disability. 

Smith said he wanted to see the plan taken seriously by the government and not just be a “talk fest”.   

“People with disability need to see action,” he said.


Maggie Coggan  |  Journalist  |  @MaggieCoggan

Maggie Coggan is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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One comment

  • Avatar Andrew Ramsey says:

    Maggie
    The article correctly in my view highlights and presents a positive case for society to work together to continually improve opportunity and access for people living with a disability to gain employment. The article does however paint a negative view of supported employment by referencing them as sheltered workshops, which shows a lack of understanding or appreciation for the value these organisations bring to the lives of many thousands of Australians.
    As a provider of open and supported employment, we at Mobo Group are proud of all our employees. Each employee chooses to work in the employment environment they work in each day. Our experience is the time each supported employee spends at work each day is arguably that time of each day they cherish most.
    It would be terrific to see a more balanced representation and more in-depth understanding of the employment options available for people living with a disability presented in such an article. We strive to enable people living with disabilities and their families to be the best they can be and we do this through providing a variety of employment options across metropolitan and regional South Australia. At Mobo Group, we positively impact the lives of more than 500 people living with a disability each week, and we do this through making employment possible. In doing this we continue to work collaboratively with government agencies and other players working in or connected with the disability sector with a solutions focussed mindset to continually improve and broaden opportunity and access to employment for the people we support. I would urge you to take a broader perspective and understanding of how all aspects of employment supports satisfy the diverse needs and capabilities of people living with disability before condemning one of the very valuable forms of employment currently serving some 20,000 Australians.

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