AUSTRALIA has a terrible track record when it comes to helping people with disabilities secure mainstream employment.
Tim Curran, the chief executive officer of Orange’s disability support service CareWest, said people on a disability pension make up only 9 percent of Australia’s mainstream workforce.
He said our disability employment record looks woeful when compared to most western nations where an average of 30 per cent of most workforces are made up of people who would qualify for a disability pension under Australia’s current classifications.
However, a proposed federal government crackdown on the eligibility of people on a disability pension could result in thousands of Australian people deemed not entitled to claim all or part of a pension, and in many cases forced to seek mainstream employment to make ends meet.
Orange administration worker Scott Collins, who works at Wangarang Industries, said he's worried about the prospect of having a doctor rank people on their level of disability in order to decide if they qualify for the pension.
While it’s still too early to see how the proposed changes will be rolled out, let’s hope the government’s push to save money doesn’t further disadvantaged those who already have limited employment opportunities.
The government should play a key role in helping people with disabilities ensure they have the means to live full and meaningful lives, and find appropriate employment if they’re able to.
Let’s encourage and support the Australian companies which supply employment opportunities for people with varying levels of abilities and acknowledge that diversity in the workplace is a bonus for everyone.