Cate Rose

I have worked in disability services, both with non government providers of services in the community, and at an international level as a external collaborator on the ILO Code of Practice on People with Disabilities Accessing the Workforce. I also spent some time working int the WHO Disability and Rehabilitation Team, based in Geneva.

First, hearty congratulations on the Australian Government for tackling this issue. People with disabilities should be about to participate in all facets of life, including work, to the level of their ability. Unfortunately it seems that many employers are not that keen to employ people with disabilities and this is a large part of the problem. I have a very talented friend who is blind. She has a university degree and a partially completed a Law degree. Obviously she is highly intelligent and skilled at overcoming the challenges that she has faced just to attain that level of education. However, despite this, at 28 she has never had a job. Despite her great interpersonal skills, educational background and personal achievements, including community and state awards for sport, no employer has ever given her a job. This is a total waste of talent and I can see why PWD get disheartened.

Unfortunately, although a lot of progress has been made and Australia is making positive efforts, there is still an element of discomfort when confronted with someone who has a disability. I think there needs to be more promotion of the benefits of employing a diverse workforce: there are ways to adapt most work places to accommodate disability, there are financial supports, personal mentors, government assistance on matching and supporting the placement in an ongoing manner. I can totally understand that employers don’t want to employ someone who they perceive may be a “drain on their resources”. The fact that it is “doable” needs a bit of an up sell. Promote the success of PWD in the workplace. Get on social media. Create a change in the mindset. I really feel if employers see how it can work, then it will catch on. We still need to “normalise” participation of people with disabilities in all facets of life. Seeing all sorts of people working to their individual capacity doesn’t have to be a dream.

I wish you all the best in your endeavours.

(Unfortunately I didn’t find out about the consultation until too late – it came up as a sponsored ad in my FB stream. I assume because I LIKE the NDIS page. If there are more consultations in WA I would be interested in attending).