New approach to disability employment sees outstanding results

A national disability employment project has delivered exceptional success rates, and created a new blueprint for how businesses could increase employment opportunities for people with disability.

IncludeAbility, a project of the Australian Human Rights Commission, ran three-month employment pilots in Perth and the Illawarra with the goal of increasing meaningful work opportunities for people with disability.

In Western Australia, IncludeAbility collaborated with Good Sammy Enterprises and Woolworths on an employment pilot. Fifteen young people with intellectual disability were paid award wages to work in customised roles including grocery, customer service and bakery. At the end of the pilot, 12 of the participants (80%) accepted ongoing roles with Woolworths.

In New South Wales, IncludeAbility’s employment pilot collaboration with The Disability Trust saw 15 people with acquired disability employed with local employers including Kmart, The Disability Trust, UOW College and Illawarra ITeC. Thirteen (86%) of the participants have continued their employment at the end of the pilot period.

The Australian Human Rights Commission’s President and Acting Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Emeritus Professor Rosalind Croucher AM, said the IncludeAbility project had been a resounding success:

“We’re working towards a future where people with disability have equal access to the open workforce, with fair wages and opportunities for meaningful careers. The benefits extend far beyond the individuals themselves – people with disability offer a wealth of diverse skills and perspectives to workplaces.

“The IncludeAbility employment pilots had an exceptional success rate: at least 80% of participants continued their employment at the end of the pilot period, which shows great promise for reform in the disability employment space.

“The key difference with our project was that employers were given tools, expert knowledge and support to succeed. Regular check-ins with the IncludeAbility team, employees and service providers meant that employers had a space to discuss challenges and solve problems.”

IncludeAbility has received $1.9 million in funding from the Paul Ramsay Foundation to extend the project for three years, until 2026. The future project will build on the recommendations from the Disability Royal Commission’s final report in seeking to create opportunities for sustainable open employment, inclusion and desegregation.

“In the second phase of the IncludeAbility project, we will expand the employment pilots and share our recipe for success with businesses, organisations and the disability sector, to help create meaningful work opportunities for people with disability in their local communities,” said President Croucher.

Ben Gales, Chief Delivery Officer at the Paul Ramsay Foundation said: “Working with employers is key to activating quality job opportunities for people with disability. There is clear evidence that people with profound disabilities can work in open employment, provided there is adequate and fit-for-purpose support. Eliminating barriers and creating environments where people with disability can thrive in work should be business as usual.”

The Centre for Social Impact has published an evaluation of the IncludeAbility project – read it here.

Learn more at free webinar Lessons from IncludeAbility: Unlocking jobs for people with disability with large employers on 24 November, 12-1pm.

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