The Hon Jane Prentice MP, Assistant Minister for Social Services and Disability Services spoke on 16 may at the Australian Network on Disability’s 9th Annual National Conference in Melbourne to reaffirm the Australian Government’s commitment to improving employment outcomes for people with disability and to outline the government’s support for businesses.
The conference is a one-of-a-kind in Australia that inspires and engages business professionals to look at current trends and best practice ways to support employees, customers and stakeholders with disability.
Mrs Prentice outlined the Government’s $3 billion plan over the next four years to strengthen Disability Employment Services (DES) and associated services.
Mrs Prentice said that many businesses wanted to employ people with disability but may not know the benefits for their business or the government support that is available.
“More than 14 per cent of people who are of working age have disability but only about half of them are employed or seeking work – compared with 83 per cent of people without disability. That’s a large pool of untapped talent for Australian businesses,” Mrs Prentice said.
“Many businesses report the competitive advantages of employing people with disability: increased productivity; greater innovation; lower staff turnover; improved workplace culture, morale and employee engagement; and reputational benefits.
“DES is a program that connects jobseekers with a disability, injury or illness with employment opportunities. DES providers are funded to provide advice and support to employers, including information about the government financial assistance that is available to support businesses to employ people with disability.”
Since 2010, DES has achieved more than 350,000 placements, including more than 200,000 jobs lasting six months or more.
“These are great results, but we know through our consultations with disability employment providers, people with disability and employers, that DES needed to be improved.
“Employers want to know that the employment provider they have selected will deliver them the right person for the job.
“Changes from 1 July 2018 reflect what we have heard. Employers will be able to work with the DES provider they prefer, and work more closely with providers to find and keep good candidates.
“The way participants are referred to DES providers will also change, and we are opening up the market to create more competition between DES providers – which will drive innovation.”
Mrs Prentice said the changes would encourage better relationships between providers and employers, and lead to better long-term employment outcomes for the benefit of people with disability, businesses and the Australian economy.