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National Inquiry on employment and disability: Summary of Roundtable Meetings

National Inquiry on employment and disability: Summary of Roundtable Meetings

Sydney , 31 March 2005
Melbourne , 7 April 2005
See also separate notes
from employer forum
, Brisbane 22 April and Sydney employer forum, 7 July 2005; see also NEEOPA forum, 10 October

Presentations from participants are also available:

1. Purpose of meetings

Consultation with peak disability sector organisations, employer bodies, employment services and government agencies in order to assist the Inquiry to identify:

•  the primary barriers in the context of the employment of people with disabilities

•  practical solutions to address those barriers

•  strategies for ensuring the implementation of those solutions

See Appendix A for a list of participants in Sydney .

See Appendix B for the detailed agenda in Sydney .

See Appendix C for a list of participants in Melbourne .

See Appendix D for the detailed agenda in Melbourne .

2. Barriers to employment of people with disabilities

Discussions revealed the following issues to be some of the primary barriers for people with disabilities and employers:

•  Attitudes of employers, people with disabilities and the general community

•  Incorrect assumptions about the needs of, and risks associated with, hiring people with disabilities

•  Inadequate information and advice for employers and people with disabilities

•  Direct costs for people with a disability (eg transport, interpreters, aids and adaptations, medical costs, loss of pension benefits)

•  Direct costs for employers (eg workplace modifications, insurance)

•  Inadequate tertiary education and job-related training

•  Inadequate physical infrastructure (eg transport, building access, workplace modifications)

•  Inflexible work environment (especially for people with a mental illness and other episodic illnesses)

•  Risk aversion - both employers (eg unfair dismissal) and people with disabilities (eg loss of pension) are concerned about what will happen if a job does not work out

•  Concerns about occupational, health and safety risks

•  Failure of disability support services to meet real needs (eg inappropriate referrals, capped services)

•  Lack of integration between Commonwealth and State support services leads to many people falling through the gaps

•  Inadequate access to work experience and the link to insurance costs

•  Failure to educate employment services and employers about the special issues facing people with a mental illness

•  Additional communication hurdles faced by culturally and linguistically diverse people

•  Women with disabilities can face double discrimination.

3. Issues for further exploration

Participants suggested the Inquiry focus on the following issues:

•  Distinctions between the needs of people with different types of disabilities

•  Mental illness and the need for workplace flexibility

•  Making improvements to employment services (eg individualisation of services)

•  Job seeking assistance for persons not on the disability support pension

•  Holistic approach to disability support, especially mental health

•  Job retention and promotion

•  Transition points in a person's life eg post school options, job shifting

•  Hiring policies and practices of Commonwealth and State government agencies

•  Employer incentive and support schemes (eg tax incentives, wage subsidies, why workplace modification schemes are not being used)

•  Review of occupational health and safety, unfair dismissal and industrial relations laws

•  Role of recruitment agencies

•  International best practice.

4. Suggested priorities and strategies for the Inquiry

Participants suggested that the following issues and strategies might be appropriate for this Inquiry to engage in:

•  Change perceptions - people with a disability are people first

•  Improve information and technical assistance available to all eg create an information and advice service modelled on the US Job Accommodation Network (JAN)

•  Streamline Commonwealth and State Government services for people with disabilities

•  Improve hiring practices by Commonwealth, State and local government agencies

•  Develop a 'National Employment Strategy for People with Disability' that has political support from Commonwealth and State Governments and is developed in collaboration with people with disabilities, service providers, employers and trade unions

•  Engage large and small employers in developing solutions and building peer networks

•  Create coalitions and partnerships between employers, people with disabilities, government and other interested parties to ensure ongoing impact of any changes arising from the Inquiry process

•  Gather research regarding: (i) financial impact on employers when hiring people with certain disabilities; (ii) financial impact on people with disabilities when entering the workforce; (iii) financial impact on society when people with disabilities do not enter the workforce

•  Enter debate on industrial relations laws

•  Monitor the welfare reform agenda

•  Develop a strategy to make it easier for employers to make workplace modifications, including communications technology

•  Instigate government procurement and contract compliance policies which ensure the availability of accessible equipment

•  Identify models for disability friendly workplaces, based on existing best practice

•  Push for removal of caps on the employment services available to people with disabilities and ensure adequate funding to meet individual needs

•  Develop better transition mechanisms from business services to open employment

•  Use the political opportunities that come with the current labour shortages

•  Use the opportunities that come with increasing demand for workplace flexibility from all sectors of society (eg working parents)

5. Next steps

The Inquiry informed participants that it would consider the results of these two roundtable meetings and the written submissions (due on 15 April 2005), prior to developing its plan of action.

A draft plan of action will be circulated to participants in order to get further comments and, in particular, to elicit offers of participation and cooperation.

However, Inquiry staff emphasised that this is intended to be a dynamic process. All participants were encouraged to provide further suggestions to the Inquiry and to develop their own strategies on an ongoing basis.

 

Appendix A: Sydney Participants

Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission
National Inquiry into Disability and Employment
Roundtable, Sydney , 31 March 2005

Apologies

Australian Business Limited

Breakthru Employment

First Contact Human Resources

Macquarie Employment and Training Services

Wiradjuri Group

Participants

Dr Sev Ozdowski OAM, Acting Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Human Rights Commissioner

Graeme Innes, Deputy Discrimination Commissioner

David Mason, Vanessa Lesnie, Kate Temby, Michael Small : Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission

Sarah Bennett : Office of the Disability Council of NSW

Jennifer Bowers, Chief Executive Officer Carers Association of Australia

Alanna Clohesy, Deputy Director Advocacy People with Disability Australia

Suzanne Colbert, Chief Executive Officer Employers Making a Difference

Deborah Curnow (Acting Executive Officer, BIANSW): Brain Injury Australia

Sue Egan: Physical Disability Council of Australia

Dougie Herd, Director Disability Council of NSW

Roger Hood (President, Australian Business Industrial): Australian Business Limited

Andrew Johnson, Director Australian Council of Social Service

Susan Kable, State Manager CRS

Jason McKey (Managing Director Job Placement Ltd) : ACROD

John Mendoza, Chief Executive Officer Mental Health Council of Australia

Annie Parkinson, President Women With Disabilities Australia

Victoria Perry: Australian Industry Group

Diana Qian, Executive Director National Ethnic Disability Alliance

Brian Rope, Chief Executive Officer Deafness Forum of Australia

Ros Sackley: National Indigenous Disability Network

Helen Silver, Director, Employment Equity and Diversity, Office of the Director of Equal Opportunity in Public Employment (NSW)

Michael Simpson, Manager Advocacy, Royal Blind Society

Ian Spicer AM, Chair National Disability Advisory Council

Rohan Squirchuk: Council for Equal Opportunity in Employment

Tim Tench: Department of Family and Community Services

Susan Thomson: Department of Employment and Workplace Relations

Phil Tuckerman, Managing Director Job Support

Lee-Anne Whitten (NSW Council on Intellectual Disability): National Council on Intellectual Disability

Andrew Wiltshire, Community Liaison and Projects Officer, Australian Association of the Deaf

Appendix B: Sydney Agenda

Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission
National Inquiry into Disability and Employment
Roundtable, Sydney , 31 March 2005

9.00am Arrival and introduction

9.30am Barriers to employment: Presentations

•  Short presentations from participants giving perspectives on barriers to employment for people with disabilities

•  Dougie Herd, Office of the Disability Council of NSW

•  Phil Tuckerman, Job Support

•  Andrew Johnson, ACOSS

•  General discussion and identification of other barriers

11.30am Solutions: Presentations

•  Short presentations from participants regarding practical initiatives and potential solutions to further the employment opportunities for people with a disability

•  Susan Thomson, DEWR

•  Suzanne Colbert, EMAD

•  Alanna Clohesy, PWD

•  Ian Spicer, NDAC

•  General discussion and identification of further solutions

2.00pm Solutions: Priorities

•  Development of ideas about practical initiatives and potential solutions to further employment opportunity of people with a disability

•  Presentation of HREOC ideas regarding potential initiatives

•  Suggestions about priorities for the work of the Inquiry

3.45pm Solutions: Directions

Next steps for the Inquiry

•  Practical initiatives

•  Policy development

•  Further research

•  Opportunities for collaboration

5.00pm Close

 

Appendix C: Melbourne Participants

Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission
National Inquiry into Disability and Employment
Roundtable, Melbourne , 7 April 2005

Apologies

Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Australian Council of Trade Unions

Business Council of Australia

Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia

Department of Employment and Workplace Relations

Diversity at Work

Maccess

Office of Public Employment

Participants

Dr Sev Ozdowski OAM, Acting Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Human Rights Commissioner

Graeme Innes, Deputy Discrimination Commissioner

David Mason, Vanessa Lesnie, Kate Temby: Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission

Bryan Ambrosius, Chief Executive Officer, Disability Employment Action Centre

Roger Barson, Branch Manager, Disability and Carers Branch, Department of Family and Community Services

Caroline Crosse, Business Development Officer, WCIG Employment Services

Maryanne Diamond, Chief Executive Officer, Australian Federation of Disability Organisations

Nicole Highet, Deputy Chief Executive Officer , beyondblue

Barbara Hocking, Director, Sane Australia

Gary Johnston, State Manager, CRS

Lucy Macali, Executive Officer, ACE National Network

Kary McLiver, Jobfutures

Nerida Nettlebeck, WCIG Employment Services

Collette O'Neill, National Policy Officer, Australian Federation of Disability Organisations

Sue Ranking, Chief Executive Officer, WISE Employment

John Simpson, Blind Citizens Australia

Helen Szoke, Chief Executive Officer, Equal Opportunity Commission, Victoria

Claire Thorn, Executive Officer, Disability Advisory Council of Victoria

Keith Wilson, Chairperson, Mental Health Council of Australia

 

Appendix D: Melbourne Agenda

Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission
National Inquiry into Disability and Employment
Roundtable, Melbourne , 7 April 2005

9.30am Arrival and introduction

10.00am Barriers to employment: Presentations

•  Short presentations from specific participants giving perspectives on barriers to employment for people with disabilities

•  Keith Wilson, MHCA

•  Maryanne Diamond, AFDO

•  Helen Szoke, EOCV

•  General discussion and identification of other barriers

11.45am Solutions: Presentations

•  Short presentations from specific participants regarding practical initiatives and potential solutions to further the employment opportunities for people with a disability

•  Lucy Macali, ACE

•  Roger Barson, FaCS

•  HREOC Presentation of solutions suggested at Sydney forum

•  General discussion and identification of further solutions

2.00pm Solutions: Priorities

•  Development of ideas about practical initiatives and potential solutions to further employment opportunity of people with a disability

•  Presentation of HREOC ideas regarding potential initiatives

•  Suggestions about priorities for the work of the Inquiry

3.45pm Solutions: Directions

Next steps for the Inquiry

•  Practical initiatives

•  Policy development

•  Further research

•  Opportunities for collaboration

5.00pm Close