Disability Discrimination Commissioner Susan Ryan has marked International Day of People with Disability by celebrating the valuable contributions people with disability make in business, government and the community.
Commissioner Ryan called on all employers across Australia to play their part in enhancing workforce participation of people with disability.
“This year’s theme is technology, and fittingly so. We live in a technological age and for people with disability these advancements enhance their already clear employability,” said Commissioner Ryan.
“While there are a number of disability-confident employers, including Westpac and ANZ, the reality is that 45% of Australians with disability live near or below the poverty line, which is unacceptable.”
Evidence shows many people with disability do have the capacity and desire to work but are not given a fair opportunity to do so.
“The advantages of employment stretch far beyond financial security, important as this is,” Commissioner Ryan said.
“Working provides a social connection, a sense of purpose, and the ability to gain respect.”
Research shows that employees with disability have fewer workplace accidents, make fewer workers compensation claims, take fewer days off and typically remain with a company for a longer period of time than employees without disability.
Despite these facts, workforce participation of Australians with disability is currently at 54%, compared to 84% workforce participation of Australians without disability.
Commissioner Ryan said there was some good news for people with disability.
“2014 marks the second year of the National Disability Insurance Scheme that has ready provided a number of Australians with greater flexibility, choice and control in accessing supports that will enable them to fulfil their personal goals,” she said.
“I commend the National Disability Insurance Agency on the rollout of the scheme to-date and look forward to hearing of many more successful outcomes in the future.
“Although the NDIS will go a long way towards improving the participation of Australians with disability, it alone cannot realise this goal.”