Launch of Disability Employment Services discussion paper

Speech Location:

Decadent Restaurant, Tuggeranong, Canberra

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Thank you Minister Porter.

I thank the Minister for this great announcement because the fact is that we are not doing very well in this area as the Minister said, we can do better and we need to do better.

We are rating at the moment 21 out of 29 OECD countries for disability employment. That is frankly not good enough. If it was an Olympic sport there would probably be an outcry from the community. So this discussion paper will help us identify people who are doing it the right way, the successful way. People like Donna Faulkner in Gippsland who initiated Job Shadow Day which I thought was a great idea there. She gets employers to let people with disability shadow their employees for the day and then they realise that people with disability make great employees and they can easily accommodate them in their business. So hopefully that gets rolled out in other areas in Australia as well.

People with disability are great employees and you only have to speak to Di who is the proprietor here at Decadent, who employs three of them, to know what an asset they can be to your business. People with disability invariably turn up early, they are loyal, they don’t have five coffee breaks before 10 o’clock in the morning, they don’t tell you how to do your job after only two days and they’re very dedicated to the company. In fact when you talk to people in employment enterprises they say their employees with disability really become part of the family of that business and an asset to the company. So I’m looking forward to working with companies and disability employment service providers to identify other opportunities.

I was very upset the other day to hear that there was an employment group who identified fifty potential mentors for people with disability but they couldn’t find the people with disability to work with them. So we need to put people together, we need to form those linkages, we need to identify opportunities and improve the rate of disability employment in Australia.