NSW Community Sector comes together to employ more people with disability

27 November 2019

MEDIA RELEASE

How can NSW community services attract more people with disability to their workforce?

That’s the question that will be posed today at a forum at NSW Parliament House where Life Without Barriers joins the Community Services Industry Alliance (CSIA) and community services senior leaders to make a plan for the industry to attract more employees with disability.

Life Without Barriers Chief Executive Claire Robbs said, “Only 50 per cent of people with disability of working age have a job and that’s simply not acceptable. We need to level the playing field to ensure that people with disabilities have the same access to employment opportunities as people without disabilities.

“In our sector, we are in a unique position to shift this. We are the fastest growing sector, with 1 in 4 new jobs being created being in health and social services, and we are also the largest employing sector. If we can look within our own organisations to better attract people with disability, that will go a long way to changing the picture overall.

“And it’s not just an equity issue or the right thing to do. People with disability represent a huge proportion of Australian society and we are missing out if we are excluding them from our talent pool.

“We are experiencing unique challenges in our industry – from rapid growth, to changes in government funded services. Having a diversity of lived experiences and skills is only going to help us design and deliver better services.”

Studies have long shown that people with disability work harder, make more reliable employees and are likely to stay longer in an organisation than the general workforce. Life Without Barriers has recently committed to a disability employment target of 12% of new recruits by 2022.

CSIA CEO Belinda Drew said this roundtable was one of the many ways they support the community services industry to create diverse and sustainable workforces.

“The CSIA Becoming Inclusion Ready report on the inclusion of people with disability shows that this group are value employees to have in an organisation, but we as employers still have a lot of work to do.

Ms Drew said that the focus of the forum will be defining the barriers to attracting and retaining employees with disability and discuss ways to overcome them.

“This includes how to create a welcoming workplace culture and address old fashioned stereotypes of people with disability. We also need to improve recruitment processes to make
them more flexible and ensuring that selection criteria does not immediately block people out – for example making it mandatory that all employees have a drivers licence.

“We’ll also discuss measure to retain people with disability on staff ensuring they are supported with mentoring and career development pathways.”

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