Annette Holden

This 10 year strategy MUST acknowledge the findings of and support the recommendations (when released) of the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability (DRC). DRC Public Hearings 9 took extensive evidence of Barriers to Employment, potential solutions, and current failings.

Preliminary findings are of 31 barriers grouped into four themes: attitudinal; physical and environmental; organisational; and structural.

Transcripts reveal shocking stories happening now. In line with the evidence presented (and my experience), community (employers’) attitude is the greatest barrier.

“Attitudes and assumptions form major barriers to employment –
Discriminatory attitudes and wrong assumptions about people with disability are among a range of barriers that prevent people with disability from finding and keeping a job.

Senior Counsel Assisting the Royal Commission Kate Eastman SC presented this ‘proposed finding’ at an oral submissions hearing day (on 24 March 2021).

It is one of many proposed findings made in relation to Public hearing 9 which took place last year and looked into barriers and pathways to open employment for people with disability. In this hearing we heard evidence from 35 witnesses including people with disability, parents and carers of people with disability, advocates and academics.

With respect to what people told us at Public hearing 9, Ms Eastman said on Wednesday ‘the totality of the evidence supports the Royal Commission finding that there are systemic barriers experienced by people with disability in obtaining and retaining employment in the open labour market.’

She said barriers to employment fell into four broad categories:

  1. attitudinal barriers such as assumptions that people with disability do not want work or can’t work
  2. physical and environmental barriers such as physically inaccessible buildings or work places (for example buildings with no lifts or rooms with no hearing loops)
  3. organisational barriers such as problems accessing skills training and education
  4. structural barriers such as a lack of connections between government programs designed to help people with disability into employment.

Ms Eastman proposed further investigations focus on:

  • private sector employers
  • public sector employers
  • the Disability Employment Services system
  • the Australian Government’s strategy to increase employment for people with disability laws and institutions that protect the rights of people with disability in the workplace.

Another hearing on open employment will be held later this year.”

Please do not waste the opportunity for community improvement the DRC offers.