The National Disability Strategy and its Relationship to Employment

On the 3rd of December 2021 (which is also the International Day of People with Disabilities), the Australian Government launched the 2nd National Disability Strategy (NDS). For the uninitiated, the NDS is a decade long framework that highlights the policies and potential legislative mechanisms that is to be relied upon to improve the lives of people with disabilities. One of the key achievements

of the inaugural NDS is the recommendation of the NDIS.


How does the National Disability Strategy relate to

employment?

Whilst some businesses may not think of employment being an area of concern for people with disabilities, for the most part they would be incorrect. Many people with disabilities wish to be employed however have not been able to be so. Hence, employment is a key area of the National Disability Strategy. This is because despite many people with disabilities wishing to have a job, statistics have highlighted that the employment of people with disabilities has not improved in the last 2 decades as well as there being a similar number of complaints in workplace discrimination in

relation to sexual discrimination and harassment.


Whilst the key National Disability Strategy is the general policy guideline where there are policy statements, namely to:

  • ‘increase the employment of people with disabilities’

  • ‘Improve the transition of young people with disability from education to employment’, and;

  • ‘strengthen financial independence of people with disability’

the crucial document lies with the ‘Targeted Action Plans’, which highlights the various actions that will be undertaken by both the federal and the state government within the next 3 years. At the moment, there are 5 ‘Targeted Action Plans’ available with more on the way:

  • ‘Employment’;

  • ‘Community Attitudes’;

  • ‘Early childhood’;

  • ‘Safety’, and;

  • ‘Emergency Management’;

As well as the Targeted Action Plan in relation to employment, there is a ‘Disability Employment Strategy’, which is also known as ‘Employ My Ability’.


Employment Targeted Action Plan and ‘increase employment of people with disabilities'

In relation to the policy outcome of ‘improving the employment of people with disabilities’, there

are multiple actions that the federal government plans to do. They include:

  • Implementing the National Disability Employment Strategy (more on that later)

  • Reforming Disability Employment Services; now up for consultation until the 4th of January 2022. See here for more information

  • Improving the motivation and capacity of employers to employ people with disabilities (to be done between 2021-2023)

  1. Redesigning and promoting JobAccess (for more information on Job Access see our blog post about it here.)

  2. Increasing the number of people with disabilities employed through job vacancies under the National Disability Recruitment Coordinator (NDRC)

  3. Reform and promote the Employment Assistance Fund (EAF). You can find more information on the EAF at our blog post here.

  • Trial the Individual Placement and Support (IPS) Adult Mental Health (with $1.9 million being funded) - has the aim of adults with a mental health condition getting educated or employed post-program

  • Establish and trial inclusive pathways to establish opportunities for people with disabilities to be employed within mainstream recruitment organisations

  • Having a target of 7% of Australian Public Sector employees to have a disability by 2024

  • Partnering with industries of skill shortages to connect them with Disability Employment Service participants

  • Establishing an NDIS Employment Strategy (to be implemented in June 2023) to help NDIS participants get paid work. This will be achieved by raising the employment aspiration of NDIS participants as well as improving their employment capabilities.

Employment Targeted Action Plan and ‘improve the transition of young people with disability from education to employment’

As well as the actions undertaken to improve employment outcomes for people with disabilities, the federal government plans to undertake actions to improve the transition from education to employment for people with disabilities. Such actions include:

  • Utilising the Individual Placement and Support (IPS) program to help people aged between 12-25 who have a mental illness achieve and maintain employment outcomes.

  • Implementing a new national Post-School Destinations Survey (PSDS) to help collect data pertaining to people with disabilities and their outcomes transitioning from schooling.

  • Expanding the Transition to Work (TtW) program to increase eligibility criteria to include people with disabilities (from 1 July 2022) - TtW aims to provide people aged 15-24 tailored supports to those who are at risk of long term unemployment or have struggled with transitioning from education to employment

National Disability Employment Strategy

The Disability Employment Strategy, also known as ‘Employ My Ability’ is an accessible document that highlights the benefits of employing people with disabilities as well as the importance of priority areas for change (and what can be done), including;

  • Lifting employer engagement, capability and demand

  • Building employment skills, experience, and confidence of young people with disability

Lifting employer engagement, capability and demand

This priority aims to ensure that:

  • More people with a disability get a job and have a career of their choosing

  • Employees who acquire a disability are supported when returning to work

  • Workplaces reflect diversity

  • The benefits of employing people with disabilities are realised

Some actions that can be undertaken by employers to achieve this priority involves:

  • Increasing disability confidence awareness by:

  1. Utilising JobAccess

  2. Utilising IncludeAbility

  3. Utilising resources from Australian Network on Disability and being accredited.

  • Devolving a Disability Action Plan

  • Ensuring recruitment processes are inclusive.

For more information on some of these actions, see our blog here.


Building employment skills, experience and confidence of young people with disability

There is sufficient evidence to suggest that whilst young people want to work post-schooling, they are less likely to successfully transition from school to work than those without a disability. Also, this goal aims to improve the capacity of informal networks of people with disabilities to ensure they feel confident in looking for work.

Some actions that can be undertaken by employers to achieve this priority includes:

  • Provide and offer internship opportunities for people with disabilities, and;

  • Ensure mainstream recruitment pathways such as cadetships and graduate programs are inclusive for people with disabilities

Reviewing the National Disability Strategy and Targeted Action Plans

It is noted that the National Disability Strategy (and the Targeted Action Plans) are up for review every 3 years, with the next major review occurring in 2024. However, prior to this there will be a review of the NDS and Targeted Action Plans following the Disability Royal Commission findings, which are due to be released in 2023. You can find more information about some of the recommendations made in our blog here.


If you require support in relation to your diversity and inclusion in your organisation, please do not hesitate to contact at enquiries@karenansen.com