• Norine Cruse

A big, largely untapped talent pool in the disabled workforce.


A big, largely untapped talent pool in the disabled workforce.

There’s a great talent pool out there just waiting to be tapped

Australia’s workforce is constantly changing to prepare for and respond to our future economic, environmental and social goals.

The changes we face include an ageing population and a population where one in five Australians live with disabilities.

To some extent people are staying in the workforce for longer which does assist industries experiencing significant skill and labour shortages, especially in growth areas.

Taking the statistic that one in five Australians lives with disability, this represents a vast pool of talent that employers can tap into to get the talent they need, enhance workplace diversity and overcome labour shortages.

Don’t overlook the potential offered within the pool of disabled employees. Australia provides access to a diverse range of skilled and talented people as part of the total workforce.

As an employer, a major concern when recruiting staff is getting the right person for the job. Sometimes the right person will be someone with disabilities. Smart employers recruit from this talent pool.

Disability Employment Services Reform 2018 is coming...

The Department of Social Services has released an Industry Information Paper to inform interested parties about future arrangements for the Disability Employment Services (DES) program, including the establishment of a new panel of DES providers to commence on 1 July 2018.

The Industry Information Paper is available from the DSS www.engage.dss.gov.au website.

In the meantime...

There are two major Australian Government funded employment services programs available to employers who wish to recruit people with disability. They are:

  1. Disability Employment Services - https://www.dss.gov.au/our-responsibilities/disability-and-carers/programmes-services/disability-employment-services

  2. Job Services Australia – Employer hotline 131715 - https://www.jobs.gov.au/news/job-services-australia-support-job-seekers-and-employers

Employers have access to various employment assistance programs in order to meet the needs of disability workers in terms of adapting the working environment and wage subsidies to support productivity issues. Most Australians who have a disability and participate in the open workforce do so at full rates of productivity and pay.

However, some people are unable to get a job at full wage rates due to the effect of disability on their level of work productivity. In such cases the employer has access to a Supported Wage System provision in their industrial award or agreement to enable the use of Supported Wage System productivity based wages.

Access and assistance for employers is readily explained at: https://www.jobaccess.gov.au/employers

There are basic needs to consider in terms of the working environment. An accessibility checklist for employers is available however the basics are simple:

  • Reasonable adjustments to suit flexible work arrangements

  • Accessibility to facilities and working environment

  • Disability worker integration into the workplace – diversity, equal opportunity etc

  • Safety review against needs such as large computer screen for sight impairment, visual instead of sound emergency alarms for hearing impairment [funding is available] and other safety considerations depending on the impairment.


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