Government called on to employ more people with disability in public service
In 2017, just 3.6 per cent of Australian Public Service (APS) employees identified as having a disability, compared to 6.6 per cent in 1986.
While there are no employment targets in place for public servants at a federal level, state governments in Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales recently announced targets to increase the employment of people with a disability in the public sector.
In February, Victoria announced a public service disability employment target of 6 per cent by 2020, as part of an economic participation plan for people with disability.
“Like anyone else, people with a disability can work, and want to work – yet many Victorians still face barriers to entering the workforce,” Victorian disability minister Martin Foley said.
“We are charting a path to change – and we all need to grab the opportunity to deliver for some of the most vulnerable in our community.”
Queensland has set an 8 per cent target by 2022, while NSW wants to boost public service disability employment from 2.7 per cent to 5.6 per cent by 2027.
Vision 2020 Australia – which advocates for the blind and vision impaired – has urged the federal government to show leadership by implementing a disability employment target of 7 per cent for the APS by 2023.
CEO Carla Northam lauded the action taken by the Victorian, NSW and Queensland governments.
“Access to meaningful employment free from discrimination is a fundamental human right for all Australians,” Northam said.
“People with disability have a range of skills, capabilities and interests to bring to the workforce. Setting specific measurable targets and establishing a plan to meet them is an effective way to improve disability inclusion in the workplace; improving accountability and transparency.”
Vision 2020 Australia released a position statement in October 2017, calling for meaningful employment for people with disability in the APS.
It noted that for the nearly one in seven working aged Australians living with a disability, the workforce participation rate was just 53.4 per cent, compared to 83.2 per cent for the rest of the population.
It said that there had also been a decline of people with disability in the APS workforce.
“While the [APS] is a major employer across Australia, there has been a consistent decline in the inclusion of people who identify as having a disability in the APS workforce, from 6.6 per cent in 1986, down to 4.1 per cent in 2005 [and] 3.74 per cent in 2016,” the statement said.
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