Equality of opportunity in employment can be achieved through ensuring barrier-free recruitment including effective reasonable adjustment and inclusive and supportive management.
Governments should be leading the way in inclusive recruitment, by improving public sector employment practices and developing clear strategies to address concerns about the costs and risks associated with people with disability as employees in the open workplace.
- Globally, Australia ranks 21 out of 29 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries in employment/participation of people with disability.
- The State has a vested interest in facilitating good employment outcomes on an economic and social level. Count Me In: Disability Future Directions emphasises employment as one of 13 key priorities and outlines eight pathways for implementation in the area of employment.
Disability isn’t just a health problem. The World Health Organisation (WHO) describes disability as a broad umbrella term that covers not only impairment and activity limitations but also participation restrictions. Impairment is a problem in body function or structure; an activity limitation is a difficulty encountered by an individual in executing a task or action; while a participation restriction is a problem experienced by an individual in involvement in life situations.
Employees with disability are:
- Reliable – People with disability take fewer days off, take less sick leave and stay in jobs longer than other workers.
- Productive – Once in the right job, people with disability perform as well as other employees.
- Affordable – Recruitment costs are lower.
- Safe – Australian (Deakin University 2002) and overseas studies have found that workers with disability are no more likely to be injured at work than other employees.
- Good for business – People with disability build strong connections with customers. They boost staff morale and loyalty by helping to create a diverse workforce. Teamwork is enhanced. Real cost savings are realised through less turnover, recruitment and retraining costs. Hiring people with disability adds to the organisation’s overall diversity. It builds the company’s image among its staff, community and customers.
By ensuring that your workforce reflects the community it serves you will be more likely to deliver services that are inclusive to all.
Impairments are a fact of life. They arrive at birth through life’s genetic lottery, they take hold of us in a car ride or a swim in the surf that goes devastatingly wrong, they slowly permeate us as we grow old. In a sense, impairments are not what disable people. What disables people is society’s attitudes towards the impairment – Speech of the Hon Bill Shorten MP: A right to an ordinary life, 1 April 2009 National Press Club, Canberra