Oct
8
2014

An Inconvenient Truth: More Shocking Statistics on Disability Employment

My blog post on 10 Facts about Disability Employment you won't Believe has been getting a lot of traffic, so I thought I would go into a bit more detail on these and other facts and what Australia is doing to try and change these shocking statistics. 

In 2008, the United Nations launched the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Designed to ensure that people with disabilities were considered equal in the eyes of the law in each participating nation, it covers a multitude of things, including rights regarding employment. Many countries still have low participation rates in the employment sector and in some ways Australia is falling behind many of its developed world counterparts. The country is taking steps to address this imbalance but first we need to look at the current state of affairs.

Hard Facts

In recent years, two separate studies have demonstrated low workforce participation for people with a disability.  The first recorded 54.3% participation and around 84% for people without a disability.  A separate study demonstrated an even greater disparity with the figures at 39.8% and 79.4%.

In 2009, following the worst period of the economic crisis, the national average unemployment rate rose to 5.1%.  However, amongst people with disabilities that figure was 7.9%. The situation for people with mental illness is even worse: participation rate in 2003 was just 28.2% and the unemployment rate in the same year was 19.5%, nearly four times that of the general population.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an organisation dedicated to promoting democracy and the market economy, listed 29 countries for employment rates of people with disability.  Australia was ranked 21st, this was the lowest of all developed nations.  In 2011, Pricewaterhouse Coopers listed quality of life for people with disability in 27 countries.  Unfortunately, Australia came 27th in that list too.

When it comes to poverty, the global average of people with disability living at or below the poverty line is 22%.  Australia’s is over double that at 45%.  It’s hardly surprising when around two thirds of people living with a disability is earning a weekly wage under $320 when the equivalent amongst the general population is one third.  Unfortunately, in Australia, people with disabilities are more likely than any other group to be living day to day in poverty.

So What is Australia Doing about This?

Shocked by some of the findings above, the national government took steps to improve the situation and adhere to disability employment laws as well as international conventions on human rights.  The National Disability Strategy 2010-2020 aims to significantly improve a number of factors related to disability employment including awareness, to allow the individual control over their working lives and to actively encourage businesses to more actively consider people with disabilities’ applications.

Part of this strategy included the establishment of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, a plan to permit people with disability and mental illness to control their own employability and employment. It replaces a number of grants and schemes for individuals for greater workplace participation. It includes (but is not limited to) training and care provisions for those who are ineligible for Job Services Australia and Disability Employment Services, assistive technology and a number of other services. 

By 2020, Australia expects to be amongst the highest rated nations for workforce participation of people with disabilities and mental illness.  We will be watching and waiting to see when the NDIS turns its thoughts to employment which is the logical and very talked about next step.  We, like I'm sure you do, have a lot of suggestions on how this may work in the future.

Lady in business wear stands with clapping colleagues

My blog post on 10 Facts about Disability Employment you won't Believe has been getting a lot of traffic, so I thought I would go into a bit more detail on these and other facts and what Australia is doing to try and change these shocking statistics. 

In 2008, the United Nations launched the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Designed to ensure that people with disabilities were considered equal in the eyes of the law in each participating nation, it covers a multitude of things, including rights regarding employment. Many countries still have low participation rates in the employment sector and in some ways Australia is falling behind many of its developed world counterparts. The country is taking steps to address this imbalance but first we need to look at the current state of affairs.

Hard Facts

In recent years, two separate studies have demonstrated low workforce participation for people with a disability.  The first recorded 54.3% participation and around 84% for people without a disability.  A separate study demonstrated an even greater disparity with the figures at 39.8% and 79.4%.

In 2009, following the worst period of the economic crisis, the national average unemployment rate rose to 5.1%.  However, amongst people with disabilities that figure was 7.9%. The situation for people with mental illness is even worse: participation rate in 2003 was just 28.2% and the unemployment rate in the same year was 19.5%, nearly four times that of the general population.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an organisation dedicated to promoting democracy and the market economy, listed 29 countries for employment rates of people with disability.  Australia was ranked 21st, this was the lowest of all developed nations.  In 2011, Pricewaterhouse Coopers listed quality of life for people with disability in 27 countries.  Unfortunately, Australia came 27th in that list too.

When it comes to poverty, the global average of people with disability living at or below the poverty line is 22%.  Australia’s is over double that at 45%.  It’s hardly surprising when around two thirds of people living with a disability is earning a weekly wage under $320 when the equivalent amongst the general population is one third.  Unfortunately, in Australia, people with disabilities are more likely than any other group to be living day to day in poverty.

So What is Australia Doing about This?

Shocked by some of the findings above, the national government took steps to improve the situation and adhere to disability employment laws as well as international conventions on human rights.  The National Disability Strategy 2010-2020 aims to significantly improve a number of factors related to disability employment including awareness, to allow the individual control over their working lives and to actively encourage businesses to more actively consider people with disabilities’ applications.

Part of this strategy included the establishment of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, a plan to permit people with disability and mental illness to control their own employability and employment. It replaces a number of grants and schemes for individuals for greater workplace participation. It includes (but is not limited to) training and care provisions for those who are ineligible for Job Services Australia and Disability Employment Services, assistive technology and a number of other services. 

By 2020, Australia expects to be amongst the highest rated nations for workforce participation of people with disabilities and mental illness.  We will be watching and waiting to see when the NDIS turns its thoughts to employment which is the logical and very talked about next step.  We, like I'm sure you do, have a lot of suggestions on how this may work in the future.

Lady in business wear stands with clapping colleagues

Posted by Jess May | 0 comments

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