One of Australia’s foremost charities has pointed to Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data which shows a staggering increase in the number of Australians receiving the disability pension, as evidence that people with disabilities are still shunned from the workforce.
Mission Australia has said a 280% increase in the number of people on the disability pension since the 1980s is unacceptable, and proof that workplaces are not making the right concessions to allow more disabled workers to transition into the workforce. “There are a number of people who could and should be helped back into the workforce, who should be participating, who genuinely actually want to participate, but who are not getting the support they should be,” Chief executive Toby Hall told ABC.
Hall says the figures highlight a need for a review of the disability support pension system to help people get back into the workforce – the key issue is a sheer lack of opportunity and training for people who want to return to work. “They're put onto this pension, it doesn't get much support to help them get back into work, and we're saying is it not time to stop and do something different to help them get back into work, if that's what they want to do,” Hall said.
Hall added that many disabled Australians have a hard time entering the workforce and issued a challenge to Australian employers. “You look at most workplaces in Australia, and I challenge people to look at your own workplace and say genuinely, 'How many disabled people are around me working', and often the answer is, 'Well not many'. "We're questioning 'why is that?'