Aussies with disability 'answer to crisis'

Australian of the Year Dylan Alcott wants businesses to tap into a workforce of people living with a disability who are ready and willing to enter the job market.

Labour shortages are high on the agenda of the landmark jobs and skills summit, where more than 140 business, community, union and government representatives have gathered at Parliament House in Canberra to discuss Australia’s economic challenges.

But the wheelchair tennis champion says many Australians with disability are ready to work but are not given opportunities because employers underestimate what they can do.

Of the nearly 4.5 million Australians living with some form of disability, only 54 per cent are employed, Mr Alcott said.

He said despite the national unemployment rate being at a record low of 3.4 per cent, the unemployment rate of people with disabilities was almost triple that of able-bodied people.

The workforce participation rate of people with disabilities has not risen in 28 years, something Mr Alcott said was just not fair.

“There (are) so many opportunities to get out there and work at the moment, yet it’s not really translating into people with disability getting that chance,” he told reporters.

“We need to have the opportunity to get out there and have a crack.”

Mr Alcott said unconscious bias, negative stigma and 릴게임사이트 a lack of understanding of people with disabilities were holding employers and workers back.

He said discrimination within workplaces must also be addressed.

“We all need to work together, government and corporate, to make sure workplaces are safe for people with disability,” Mr Alcott told the summit.

“It’s just bloody good business because people with disability are 90 per cent more likely to be equal to or more productive than able-bodied people, we have higher retention rates (and) lower absenteeism.”

He said the social, physical and mental health benefits of work, in addition to the financial advantages, should not be underestimated.

“(There are) so many benefits that we often get left out of, through absolutely no fault of our own,” Mr Alcott said.

Finding a work placement for every Australian who wants a job should be a priority for all summit attendees, Australian Retailers Association head Paul Zahra said.

“Diverse workforces are more productive workforces (and) when our teams are more productive, it improves morale, elevates resources, and reduces the overall demands on our staff, particularly during a labour crisis,” he told the summit.

Reducing red tape around employment while on the National Disability Insurance Scheme and improving education about the skills of people with disabilities are among things Mr Alcott wants to see covered at the summit.

“It’s a great opportunity to increase the economic growth in this country if we start listening to the lived experience of people with disability,” he said.

“The time to do it is now, so let’s, metaphorically, kick some a*** together.”

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