The federal government has been urged to show leadership and bring more people with disabilities into the Australian civil service after three state governments recently announced employment targets for disabled public servants.
In 2017, only 3.6 percent of Australian Public Service (APS) employees reported having a disability 6.6 percent in 1986.
While there are no federal employment targets for civil servants, the state governments of Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales recently announced targets to increase the employment of people with disabilities in the public sector.
In February Victoria announced a public sector disabled employment target of 6 percent by 2020 as part of an economic participation plan for people with disabilities.
“Like everyone else, people with disabilities can and want to work – yet many Victorians still face barriers to entry into the workforce,” said Victorian Disability Minister Martin Foley.
“We’re on a path to change – and we all must take the opportunity to deliver for some of the most vulnerable in our community.”
Queensland has set one 8 percent goal by 2022, while NSW plans to increase the employment of disabled people in the public sector from 2.7 percent to 5.6 percent by 2027.
Vision 2020 Australia – which works for the blind and visually impaired – has pushed By implementing an employment target of 7 percent for the APS for the disabled by 2023, the federal government should demonstrate leadership.
CEO Carla Northam praised the efforts of the Victorian, NSW and Queensland governments.
“Access to meaningful employment without discrimination is a basic human right for all Australians,” said Northam.
“People with disabilities have a range of skills, abilities and interests that they can bring to the workforce. Setting specific measurable goals and devising a plan to achieve them is an effective way to improve disability inclusion in the workplace. Improving accountability and transparency. “
Vision 2020 Australia publishes a Position information in October 2017 he called for meaningful employment for people with disabilities in the APS.
It found that for nearly one in seven working-age Australians with a disability, the activity rate was only 53.4 percent, compared with 83.2 percent for the rest of the population.
It was said that the number of people with disabilities in the APS workforce had also decreased.
“While [APS] is a major employer across Australia. The number of people with disabilities in the APS workforce has steadily declined from 6.6 percent in 1986 to 4.1 percent in 2005 [and] 3.74 percent in 2016, ”the statement said.
“People with disabilities have a range of skills, abilities and interests that they can bring to the workforce. Support for job diversity increases the representation of people with disabilities in the public and private sector workforce and improves effectiveness and productivity.
“As an important first step, the direct leadership of the Australian Government will help break down the negative assumptions and ubiquitous stereotypes of people with disabilities who continue to contribute to discriminatory employment practices.”
In addition to the employment target, the statement called on the government to implement an GSP initiative for disability internships, make the government’s RecruitAbility program mandatory for all GSP agencies, and ensure that recruitment processes, information and ICT policies are accessible to people with disabilities.
Vision 2020 Australia’s policy and advocacy manager Danielle Williams told Pro Bono News that the federal government needs to take a leadership role on this issue to make people with disabilities more visible.
“It is truly the responsibility of our governments to show this direct leadership in relation to private and public sector employers in order to reduce negative perceptions of people with disabilities trying to gain access to employment,” said Williams .
“Part of the problem with people not getting access to another sector of employment is the perception that they cannot get the job done.
“Taking this leadership and demonstrating the role also increases the visibility of people with disabilities in employment while now remaining invisible.”
Williams said the 7 percent employment target is to get the employment numbers for people with disabilities back on an upward trend.
“The reason we hit that 7 percent target is because it was close to it almost 30 years ago in 1986,” she said.
“So we really want to get back to where the Australian civil service was 30 years ago. But it will also double the effort we made in 2016. “
She added that more employees with disabilities in the APS would also benefit the entire workforce.
“What we’ve seen is the diversity of workplaces designed to really break down any stereotypes or negative perceptions people have about skills or abilities,” Williams said.
“Only with greater public sector representation will the opportunity for people to encounter a variety of skills and abilities be maximized. And in particular, we see a lot of public policy, especially on disability, that is really focused on the lived experience.
“While it is not just about employing people with disabilities in disability agencies like the NDIA, the fact that you bring real experience to the public sector would only help improve the strategies developed by a government agency.”
The Australian Public Service Commission (APSC), which develops APS’s employment policies and practices, confirmed to Pro Bono News that the APS “currently has no targets for the number of people with disabilities employed in the sector”.
APSC said that As of June 2017, 3.6 percent of APS employees reported having a disability, but said a number of measures were in place to increase these numbers.
“The Australian Public Service Commissioner’s Instructions 2016 Enable agencies to apply positive action and the RecruitAbility program to open positions. These legislative measures are intended to help people with disabilities find employment in the APS, ”said an APSC spokesman.
“The APSC is currently testing a centralized stream of recruiting for people with disabilities in APS graduate programs with this positive measure.
“The APSC continues to work closely with the agencies to help them develop their skills in the recruiting, development and support of people with disabilities. This is in line with As One’s APS Disability Employment Strategy 2016-19: Making it Happening. “
The Ministry of Social Services also has measures in place to increase the representation of people with disabilities in the workforce.
A DSS spokesman told Pro Bono News that 10.7 percent of the DSS workforce has a disability.
“The department has an action plan for employees with disabilities that includes a number of initiatives aimed at increasing the representation of people with disabilities in the department,” the spokesman said.
“[These include] Participate in RecruitAbility for vacancies; Providing training packages on disability awareness and trust for managers and individuals involved in the recruiting and selection processes; Continued support for participation in entry-level programs for the disabled; and creating an inclusive and accessible work environment for people with disabilities. “