17 August 2022

Life Without Barriers' Chief Executive, Claire Robbs addressed the NDIS Jobs and Skills Forum today, provoking the idea that for Australia to be a truly inclusive society, it means working towards recognising that disability service providers should not be needed in the long term.

“We are here to meet a need. That need must be directed by people with disability and our job is to respond to that. We are not here to bolster a bottom line or embolden our careers – because we don’t want a service provider model to be in our future long term. We need to drive societal change and do ourselves out of business.” Ms Robbs said.

“The forum, brought together by the Hon. Bill Shorten MP, included people with disability, families, advocates, and service providers and created provocative conversations and insights which will assist the Minister at the Jobs Summit in early September. “

“The provider sector is striving to move from ‘care’ to ‘empowerment’ and the prime vehicle for this is the NDIS. It is incumbent upon us as providers to bring integrity to the foundation of the scheme - choice and control for participants and that includes access to employment and the independence it can bring,” Ms Robbs said.

“We must work together so people with disability are able to manage their needs without staff from provider organisations involved – so they can access society and assistance in a mainstream way. It is not going to happen tomorrow but if we want that in our future, the work must start now.

Whilst Australia is experiencing record lows in unemployment, Ms Robbs said it is important to recognise that not all Australians are benefitting from a secure labour market.

“Unemployment rates will always fluctuate based on economic conditions, yet the ingrained barriers faced by people with disability are likely to be pervasive until we actively do something about it,” Ms Robbs said.

“We need to do more for the 113,000 people with disabilities in Australia who are being denied access to a job, both within our own organisations and the wider workforce.

“We have to push the boundaries of what disability employment looks like in our country and today’s forum is a powerful way to bring people together to drive change.”

Life Without Barriers ‘Employment Without Barriers' campaign is the organisation’s long-term commitment to creating employment without barriers for people with disability. The campaign encourages other employers to radicalise their own recruitment process and welcome people with disability into their workplace.

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