A new mindset: practical steps to improving disability inclusion at work

14 November 2022

Make a point this International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD) to check out how JobAccess might be able to help you employ someone with disability.

The Australian Government’s disability employment hub, JobAccess, provides information about the free support and benefits available to employers to increase their disability confidence – and tap into a broader talent pool to help ease staffing strains.

JobAccess General Manager Daniel Valiente Riedl said IDPwD on December 3 is a good reminder of the opportunities available for employers and people with disability in the workplace.

“It’s clear that more can be done, and with the national skills shortage continuing to strain Australian industries, it is the perfect time for employers to increase their inclusivity and access the unique skills and experience people with disability offer,” Daniel said today.

Despite the Government’s steps to increase the number of people living with disability in the workforce, people with disability make up just over half the Australian workforce, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). Furthermore, Australia is ranked 21 out of 29 OECD countries in employment participation rates for those with a disability.

It starts with a new mindset

Many organisations lack disability confidence and feel like they do not have the budget or the expertise to boost inclusiveness in their workforce.

“This is largely down to old stigmas and stereotypes that help perpetuate a feeling amongst employers that hiring people with disability is costly or requires a certain expertise, but this isn’t the case,” Daniel added.

An overwhelming majority of employed people with disability do not require additional support from their employer, according to figures from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The same is true for time off, with AIHW figures showing that people living with disability are less likely to take time off due to their disability.

Small steps can lead to big change

Improving inclusiveness can take place in stages but making small steps now can lead to big changes in future.

Employers can make employees with disability feel included by offering workplace adjustments, providing equitable growth and career development opportunities and making policies and procedures inclusive.

Simple, cost-free adjustments, such as flexible working hours or remote working options, can make a huge difference in supporting people with disability.

Workplace culture also plays a huge role in attracting and retaining a diverse workforce, and using positive language is central to that.

Employers can find practical steps to improve disability inclusion by visiting the JobAccess Employer Toolkit, a free, on-demand suite of short videos that cover all aspects of disability employment.

Support to achieve bigger changes

JobAccess also supports large employers across Australia through its National Disability Recruitment Coordinator (NDRC) service, which offers free, tailored 12-month partnerships.

Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) is one of over 360 organisations that has enjoyed the support of the NDRC, having entered into a 12-month partnership to increase the employment of people with disability.

As part of the 12-month program, the NDRC delivered Disability Awareness Training for SBS staff to drive awareness among recruitment teams, hiring managers and HR specialists by sharing facts, dispelling myths and advising on various supports and good practices.

By the end of the partnership, SBS had improved its disability confidence and made the hiring process more inclusive, with 4 per cent of employees – including 6.5 per cent of senior leaders and 3.8 per cent of managers – identifying as living with disability.

The Northern NSW Local Health District also enjoyed the support of the NDRC as it attempted to better reflect the community it services. The NDRC supported the NNSWLHD by successfully carrying out a thorough review of its recruitment policies and practices.

Manager Patient and Carer Experience Kenneth Lee said: “Having a dedicated consultant come in and guide our efforts was indeed valuable. We incorporated the NDRC’s recommendations from the review into our Disability Action and Inclusion Plan.”

What is the next step?

Employers can visit the JobAccess website to find out more about the services available to them and access free resources to support disability employment.

Alternatively, for free, expert and confidential advice on matters relating to the employment of people with disability, contact JobAccess at 1800 464 800.

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