A sobering employment rate of people with disabilities to consider

Business leaders from ASX 100 companies, the public sector, unions, regulators and legal centers will appear in a five-day employment hearing as the Royal Commission on Disability examines why disabled people in Australia is so low.

Public hearing 19, the second employment hearing, will explore what employers are doing to create inclusive workplaces and remove systemic barriers to employment faced by people with disabilities and will be held November 22-26, 2021 from 10:00 a.m. AEDT .

Data collected on employment is limited and the data available shows consistently low levels of labor market participation of people with disabilities in Australian workplaces. Only 53.4% ​​(or 1 million) of people with disabilities of working age participate in the labor force[i], and are twice as likely as people without disabilities to be unemployed[ii].

President Ronald Sackville AO QC said in Public hearing 9 “Statistics on the labor force participation of people with disabilities are sobering… .. Australia has one of the lowest employment rates for people with disabilities in the OECD”.

The economic benefits of employing people with disabilities are estimated to add more than $ 50 billion to GDP by 2050 – but only if Australia were to rank in the top eight OECD countries for people employment with disabilities.[iii].

This hearing follows Public hearing 9, when people with disabilities spoke to the Royal Commission about their employment experiences in finding and keeping a job, the barriers they regularly face in the labor market (such as discrimination and the inability to make reasonable adjustments) and what should be done to overcome them.

More than forty witnesses will be appearing, including Jennifer Westacott of the Business Council of Australia, Graeme Innes AM, former Disability Discrimination Commissioner, and business leaders from McDonalds, Woolworths, Kmart, NAB, Medibank and Lendlease.

Questions to consider include:

  • experiences of people with disabilities in obtaining and maintaining employment
  • the effectiveness of the Australian Government’s overall strategy in increasing the employment of people with disabilities in safe and inclusive jobs
  • reasonable workplace adjustments, including policies and processes for providing adjustments
  • what employers are doing to create inclusive workplaces, promote employment opportunities and support career advancement for people with disabilities
  • data collection, accountability and reporting by public and private sector employers
  • what labor regulators do to provide information, resources and support to employers and people with disabilities regarding employment issues
  • the functioning of laws and institutions designed to protect people with disabilities at work, including anti-discrimination frameworks and labor law.

President Ronald Sackville AO QC will chair the hearing with Commissioner Rhonda Galbally AC and Commissioner John Ryan AM.

Senior Counsel assisting the Royal Commission, Kate Eastman AM SC, will appear alongside Ms. Elizabeth Bennett SC and Ms. Cathy Dowsett.

Public hearing 19 will be closed to the public due to COVID-19, but will be streamed live on the Royal Commission website and will include live captions and Auslan-English performers.

Please note that journalists should register (in advance if possible) with the Royal Commission on Disability media team to be assigned a Lexel login code.

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