Employing people with disability

Posted: by Jock McNamara

Australia has some of the best government funded programs to assist people with disability into work, but there is still reluctance for employers to truly embrace diversity and inclusiveness.

Australia is currently placed 21st in disability recruitment from a field of 29 Organisations for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. With one in every five Australians having a disability of some description (ABS 2012), the economic and social costs of ignoring this
group are substantial.

Many employers’ concerns about risks and costs associated with hiring people with disability are unfounded. Disability Employment Service (DES) providers can assist in not only changing these perceptions, but also by providing practical assistance to diversify your workforce.

Through DES providers, businesses can access free training and resources to develop their disability confidence, ensuring barrier-free recruitment occurs. Other free support includes advice on job redesign, access to workplace modifications and other tools to ensure a seamless
transition for both employer and employee. DES providers can also deliver on-the-job support to employees as they settle into their new surroundings, and arrange for wage subsidies during training.

Becoming a disability confident recruiter comes with many advantages, not just for people with disability, but also internal and external stakeholders of the business:

• Improve your business’s image: A University of Massachusetts survey states 92% of the American public view companies that hire people with disability more favourably than those that do not; and 87% of the public would prefer to give their business to companies that hire people with disability

• Loyal staff and fewer sick days: employees with disability have fewer scheduled absences than employees without disability, as well as increased tenure. Workplace safety concerns also lack merit, with a 2002 Deakin University study finding workers with disability are no more likely to be injured at work than other employees

• Cost savings: Less turnover means less recruitment and retraining costs, while ensuring continuity of services and workflow

• Improved staff morale: Ensuring your workforce reflects the community it serves is a positive for all, resulting in greater teamwork and cohesiveness.

For further information, call 02 6643 4542 or email jock.mcnamara@epicassist.org

Mark works in the nursery section at Bunnings Warehouse, where he keeps busy cleaning, watering plants and happily chatting with customers. Mark connected with EPIC Assist (EPIC) a number of years ago, commencing his employment journey as a trolley collector at a shopping centre. As he grew in confidence and capability, Mark’s on-the-job guidance and supervision from EPIC was required less, and eventually phased out altogether. EPIC remained in regular contact with both Mark and his employers, looking to the future and recommending him for more challenging roles. With the significant growth in Mark’s confidence and skill set, EPIC liaised with Bunnings and identified him as a good fit for the nursery role; a sustainable and satisfying position he still holds today.

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