How JobAccess can support employers to be “With us, not for us” this World Down Syndrome Day

3 March 2023

People across Australia and worldwide will come together on March 21 for World Down Syndrome Day to celebrate the lives and achievements of people with Down Syndrome.

This year, the message is “With us, not for us” – a commitment to move away from treating people with disability as objects of charity and instead recognise people with disability as having the right to be treated fairly and enjoy the same opportunities as everyone else.

Statistics from Down Syndrome Australia indicate that between 13,000 and 15,000 individuals in Australia live with Down Syndrome. Furthermore, it estimates that approximately one in every 1,100 babies born in Australia annually will be diagnosed with Down Syndrome.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) reports that the employment rate for individuals with Down Syndrome in Australia is quite low. Only 32 per cent of those over 25 have a paid job, which includes full-time, part-time, temporary, or contract-based work.

Increasing open employment opportunities

JobAccess General Manager Daniel Valiente-Riedl urged employers to consider hiring workers with Down Syndrome, emphasising their desire to enter the mainstream workforce.

“The majority of people with Down Syndrome in employment are working in Australian Disability Enterprises (ADEs), not-for-profit organisations that play a vital role in providing supported employment opportunities to people with moderate-to-severe disability across Australia,” he said.

“Working for an ADE is a fantastic way for people with disability to contribute and connect to their local community, but more can be done to increase the opportunities for people with Down Syndrome to enter open employment.

“The desire from jobseekers with Down Syndrome is there. Figures from the NDIS show that 68 per cent of people with an intellectual disability, including Down Syndrome, do not have a paid job but would like one.”

JobAccess can help

Once an employer decides to open their doors to people with Down Syndrome, or any disability, JobAccess can provide free support and expertise. In the first instance, employers can speak with a JobAccess Adviser on 1800 464 800 for expert and confidential information tailored specifically to their workplace needs.

Employers can also access the online Employer Toolkit, which features short video lessons and downloadable resources to empower employers and help them understand the necessary steps to hire people with disability.

The Employer Toolkit comprises five sections, each containing a series of topics, including how to recruit people with disability, ensure the workplace is ready for employees with disability and manage a team that includes someone with disability.

JobAccess can organise on-the-job training, which includes disability awareness training, mental health awareness and first aid training and deafness awareness training. Employers may be eligible to access training funded by the Employment Assistance Fund (EAF).

The EAF can also support employers with work-related modifications whilst providing financial help to eligible people with disability and mental health conditions for assistive equipment to help them do their job.

Large employers can access JobAccess’ National Disability Recruitment Coordinator (NDRC) team. The NDRC is designed to help larger employers acquire the skills and talents of people with disability and develop workplace policies and practices to accommodate people with disability.

Success in the disability workspace

The Perth Mint, Australia’s largest precious metals enterprise, utilised a free, 12-month partnership with the NDRC to build a foundation to recruit people with disability. With additional support from Down Syndrome WA (DSWA), the organisation hired a jobseeker with Down Syndrome.

Discussing the appointment of Joshua Ford as Record Assistant, Kristen Potter, Group Manager Organisational and Cultural Development at The Perth Mint, said, “Securing open employment has meant Joshua has been able to build confidence and financial independence whilst developing new skills.

“While we received specialised support from DSWA, the partnership with JobAccess and the NDRC enabled us to build the foundational skills and culture to be able to successfully attract, appoint and retain Joshua.

“He has proved to be a valued team member who makes significant contributions to the team and our workplace culture.”

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