Today, Monday 3 December 2018 we celebrate International Day of People with Disability and the theme for this year is empowering and ensuring inclusiveness and equality. This is a timely reminder as the likelihood of living with disability increases with age and we will see increasing levels of disability on the Gold Coast in the future.
Disability in the workplace is more common than people think, with 1 in 5 Queenslanders having a disability of some sort, including mental, intellectual and physical disability.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), 27,500 Gold Coast residents have a profound or severe disability, needing assistance in one or more of the three core activity areas of self-care, mobility and communication. To support this need, over 44,800 residents provided unpaid assistance to a person with a disability in 2016.
The employment statistics are equally concerning, with 2.1 million Australian of work age having a disability (15-64 years old) – just over 1 million of these workers are employed and approximately 115,000 are looking for work. Graduates with a disability face a greater challenge as they take 56 per cent longer to gain fulltime employment than other graduates.
According to the National Disability Strategy, work is a key factor in an individual gaining economic security and achieving social inclusion. Employers in our community play an integral part in empowering disabled workers and can provide an inclusive workplace by being aware of the law and following some simple tips:
- Check if your workplace complies with the Disability (Access to Premises-Buildings) Standard 2010 building code to ensure easy access to your building.
- Employers have a legal obligation to make reasonable adjustments to enable an employee with a disability to perform their duties, including providing flexible working hours, regular breaks and modifications to workstations and work instructions.
- Familiarise yourself with your responsibilities and obligations under the Fair Work Act to ensure employees are provided with a safe and inclusive work environment.
- Avoid discriminating against prospective employees when advertising for a position. For example, does the position description truly reflect the essential requirements of the role, or is there some flexibility for workers with a disability?
- An employee with a disability has the right to ask their employer for modifications to their workplace or situation. If these adjustments are considered ‘reasonable’, the employer is obligated to implement them.
- Anti-discrimination laws apply regardless of whether or not an employee’s disability was the result of a work-related injury. Employers need to be aware of this if they receive a request for an adjustment.
For example, to provide for an employee with a disability, an employer might allow:
- a change to duties or tasks
- flexible working hours
- regular breaks
- workstation adjustments
- modifications to work instructions or reference manuals
- installation of ramps or other equipment.
Today, let’s celebrate the outstanding achievements of those living with a disability and focus as a community on accelerating the eradication of barriers to employment and inclusion.
For more information about the International Day of People with Disability visit: –