2.2 million people of working age have a disability, but they are unemployed at twice the rate of the rest of the population. However, a new tool promises to help workplaces become more inclusive for people with disabilities.
The Paralympics is a perfect event to showcase what people with disability can do, rather than focus on what they can’t. But away from the spotlight, enabling greater participation by adapting our shared environment to the needs of people with disabilities will be what makes the difference.
Hence the welcome innovation from the Reserve Bank to issue the new $5 note with two tiny raised dots. The tactile feature will assist the nearly 360,000 Australians who are blind or vision impaired.
The innovation comes as a result of lobbying by Australian Connor McLeod, 15, who started a Change.org petition calling for action on accessible currency. The petition garnered more than 56,000 signatures.
If a teenager can help make a difference to so many, think what might be possible in our own workplaces?
It’s not that organisations don’t want to employ people with disabilities. Many would like to be more inclusive, but are daunted and don’t know where to start.
The Australian Network on Disability (AND) shows that 89 per cent of small- to medium-sized organisations rate themselves as having a positive attitude to employing skilled people with disability.
In response to this, AND has launched a suite of management tools called the Access and Inclusion Index to help organisations understand, assess, benchmark and improve their disability confidence.
According to CEO Suzanne Colbert AM, the tool will encourage organisations to improve their performance.
“With more than four million people with disability in Australia, this tool is long overdue. As the prevalence of disability increases with age, and with Australia’s ageing workforce, it is vitally important for businesses to think strategically about access and inclusion for people with disability,” Colbert says.
AND members have access to a more comprehensive version of the tool. It can also work in partnership with companies to provide detailed evaluation and benchmarking reports that provide tailored recommendations for improvement.
To develop the Australian tool, AND worked closely with development partners the Department of Family and Community Services (FACS), the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), the Department of Defence, IBM and Westpac Group as well as the Centre for Workplace Leadership at the University of Melbourne to adapt the Disability Standard to local conditions.
If your organisation wants to get involved, it is recommended that you register by 31 October 2016 to participate in the evaluation and benchmarking opportunity. The Index will remain open through 31 December 2016.