International Day of Disability – 3 December
Published on 03 December 2013
Stories from 21 year olds across Australia are being shared today to commemorate the 21st anniversary of International Day of People with Disability.
Four young Australians with disability who turned 21 this year have filmed themselves telling their personal stories of the barriers they have faced and the successes they have achieved over the last two decades.
Their dreams and goals are no different from that of other 21-year-olds – the only difference is they have overcome a few more barriers to get where they are today.
And there is no stopping them.
Their combined aspiration is that in another 21 years – when they turn 42 – Australia will be a different place.
A place where access for all is not an issue, there are equal employment opportunities and that society has shifted in sentiment and realised a person with a disability is no different to you.
The theme of the 2014 International Day of People with Disability is Breaking Barriers and Opening Doors but new data indicates that barriers are increasing and more doors to employment are closed to jobseekers with disability.
New data from Australian Bureau of Statistics indicates that the workforce participation of people with disability went backwards from 54.3 per cent to 52.8 per cent during the period 2009 to 2012 – an indicator that many people gave up looking for work.
Jobseekers with disability found it harder to find a job, and unemployment went up (from 7.8% to 9.4% in the period 2009-2012), further widening the unemployment gap between those with disability and those without.
Australian Network on Disability CEO, Suzanne Colbert AM, said that statistics for people with disability have indeed regressed over the past 10 years, despite good intentions and significant reforms.
“A decade of stagnation indicates that it’s time for change,” said Ms Colbert. “What’s more concerning is that there is no government blueprint for the future that will link skilled and talented jobseekers with disability to industry growth sectors. A demand-led employment approach that puts people with disability and employers at the heart is required”.
While a common perception is that building design is a barrier to jobseekers with disability, only 3% need building modifications to improve accessibility. A more significant barrier relates to flexibility in the workplace (the type of role and hours). Another key barrier is the need for training or retraining and this is where employer demand-led strategies can yield good results.
Ms Colbert said that employers benefit from ensuring that their recruitment and retention systems are equitable and barrier free, as they can recruit from a wide talent pool and retain employees with valuable skills.
“Given the new government’s focus on productivity, new opportunities need to be created,” said Ms Colbert. “It’s time to create high success rate programmes that put talented people with disability and employers at the heart of the system. Boosting the workforce participation of people with disability will allow these jobseekers to share in Australia’s economic prosperity, and to help businesses reflect the community in which they operate.”