Inequitable employment participation continues to be one of the most significant issues impacting Australians with disabilities. 83 percent of the general population participate in the workforce, compared to only 53 percent of people with a disability participating in the workforce.
However, these statistics are set to change (hopefully), with the gradual introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) (and it’s QLD mirror offering, Your Life Your Choice), will be able to break down some disability employment barriers that currently make it difficult for more people with disabilities to engage in meaningful and long-term employment. (What is the NDIS?)
The NDIS will fund support to assist people in achieving their employment goals, ensuring they have the assistance and equipment required to succeed in the labour market. Funded support includes:
- Assistance building skills and capacity to participate in employment
- Finding and maintaining employment
- Personal care or assistance with transport
- Assistive technology devices, such as wheelchairs, personal communication devices or hearing aids
- Supported employment, such as services offered by Australian Disability Enterprises.
Whether you have a disability or not, I think you’d agree that being employed in a fulfilling job has psychological benefits that flow on to physical, social and economic benefits. Not only does work improve health outcomes, it promotes participation in society, independence and financial stability.
Individual Employment Plans
The NDIS are working closely with participants to create individual plans, designed to build on their strengths and interests and achieve their employment goals.
Take Margaret for example, she is 58 with long-standing spinal multiple sclerosis. Due to an arm operation she gave up the business course she had been studying. Margaret felt that the repetitive nature of typing would prevent her from ever obtaining part-time work. Therefore she needed to reassess her career direction and employment goals.
Margaret wanted to pursue her creative side and interest in floristry. Working with her NDIS planner, Margaret developed new employment goals and created a plan to get ready for a new career path. Margaret’s plan was developed into a three-tiered approach:
- Enrolment in appropriate floristry training
- Volunteer or work experience to support the training
- Gain part-time work in floristry
With help from her NDIS planner, an appropriate course was found and Margaret was given access to extra training support, including exam modifications and tutorial assistance. Margaret is now on the path to achieving her long-term goal of gaining part-time work assisting floristry outlets at peak times of the year.
The NDIS is designed to ensure participants continue to have the support, resources and equipment required to reach their goals. When obstacles are encountered along the way, the NDIS are trying to be there to assist in overcoming them, like in 18 year old Mia’s case.
Mia has a hearing impairment and after completing high school she wanted to pursue a career in plumbing. Mia and her family worked with the NDIS to develop a plan for her support, which included a goal to complete an apprenticeship.
Mia secured an apprenticeship and now spends four days a week in the workplace and one day per week in a registered training organisation. And when an occupational assessment identified that Mia was experiencing difficulties with her training, the NDIA were able to work with her training provider to install a hearing loop to assist her learning. She is also receiving support to improve her communication and speech confidence, which will help to participate more in her training. With this support, Mia was able to stay on track and now continues to work with her NDIS planner to review her plan and ensure she is receiving the support and resources needed.
Helping to maintain employment
The NDIS is also working closely with specialist agencies and local communities to improve access to services that support people in maintaining their employment. Disability Employment Services and Job Services Australia providers will be the primary source of assistance to prepare for, find and maintain employment.
With these agencies working closely together, the NDIS were able to help Mario. Mario has arthritis and was having difficulty with his fine motor tasks at home and at work. He was worried that he may be at risk of losing his job because he is sometimes unable to complete his tasks on time and his boss appeared to be getting frustrated.
Working with the NDIS, Mario was referred to an arthritis group and given ‘job in jeopardy’ assistance from a local Disability Employment Service. The Disability Employment Service was able to work with Mario’s employer to educate them on his condition, redesign some of his tasks and arrange workplace modifications to enable him to perform other tasks. This meant that Mario was more comfortable in his role and was able to maintain his employment.
Do you have an employment story to share? We would love to hear it, click here to share your story.
We’re hoping that with the NDIS is currently being rolled out across Australia, the individualised planning and funding offered under the scheme will continue to break down the disability employment barriers and ensure more Australians with disabilities have the opportunity to participate in the workforce.
A Productivity Commission report predicts that the NDIS will result in an additional 320,000 people with disabilities being employed by 2050. Additionally, it is predicted that 80,000 unpaid carers will have the opportunity to join the workforce. Those who are currently locked out of the employment market, because they are unpaid carers for family members with disabilities, will be able to join the workforce or increase the number of hours worked.
The NDIS is currently being rolled out across Australia and will be available in all areas by 2019. Through individualised planning the NDIS will continue to break down the disability employment barriers and ensure Australian’s with disabilities have the opportunity to participate in the workforce.
Do you have an employment story to share? We would love to hear it. Click here to share your story.