Willing – and able – to work

Disability affects more people than you think. Did you know that some 4.2 million Australians are reported as having a disability?[1] Yet the labour force participation rate for people with a disability is 52.8%, compared with 82.5% for people without disability.[2]

Such workforce participation rates have hardly changed in the past 20 years[3], despite the enormous potential and contribution individuals can offer.

As well as improving lives, increased workforce participation would also bring enormous economic benefits. A recent study estimates that almost $50 billion in GDP could be added to Australia’s economy in 2050 if Australia moved into the top eight OECD countries in employment of people with disability.[4]

Australia also has an ageing population. The 2015 Intergenerational Report projects that the proportion of the population aged 65 and over will more than double by 2054-55. Currently, 16% of the total labour force is over 55 years of age.[5]

Ai Group is hosting a series of roundtable discussions with Age and Disability Discrimination Commissioner, the Hon. Susan Ryan AO, to enable employers to share their stories about employing persons with disability or mature-aged workers. It is an opportunity to share the challenges, success stories and strategies that work in increasing workforce participation at the enterprise level and in the broader community.

These discussions will form part of the Willing to Work Inquiry, a national inquiry led by the Australian Human Rights Commission into employment discrimination against older Australians and Australians with disability.

Click on the following links to find out more or register to take part in these free roundtable events in Sydney on 15 October or in Melbourne on 29 October.

Ai Group is a member of the employer reference panel assisting the Commissioner. 

[1] Australian Bureau of Statistics, Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings, 2012 (2013) Disability – Characteristics

[2] Australian Bureau of Statistics, Disability and Labour Force Participation, 2012 (2015)

[3] Australian Bureau of Statistics, Disability and Labour Force Participation, 2012 (2015). Labour force participation rates of people with disability were at 54.9% in 1993.

[4] PricewaterhouseCoopers, Disability expectations: Investing in a better life, a stronger Australia (2011), p 26.

[5] Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian Social Trends, Sep 2010, Cat 4102.0 – Older People and the Labour Market (2010)

Read more about the employment of people with a disability in this article from the November 2013 edition of Industry magazine.  

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As Ai Group's National Manager – Workplace Relations Policy, Nicola is involved in employment test cases and law reform affecting the workplaces of industry. She regularly appears in the Fair Work Commission and Government Inquiries on behalf of Ai Group members, and has many years of “on the ground” strategic experience in advising employers in employment law and people & culture strategies.

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