Media Release by The Hon Bill Shorten MP

Give people with disability a go with Opportunity

Bill Shorten, today launched a new publication which outlines compelling reasons for including people with disability as customers and employees.The Australian Government provided $40,000 to the Australian Employers Network on Disability to produce Opportunity, which was also supported by the NSW Government, Westpac, McDonalds, KPMG and Sparke Helmore Lawyers.

“The time is right for business to start seeing people with disabilities as an important customer and skills base” Mr Shorten said.

“This is the first time various levels of government and major corporations have collaborated on building the business case for including people with disability.

“It is estimated that around one in five Australians have some form of impairment, but this does not mean they don’t want to, or can’t work.

“Employers who employ people with disability have found they tend to have better attendance records, remain longer and have fewer injuries at work than those without a disability.

“They are also as productive and reliable as any group of employees.

“It is time the government and the private sector embrace diversity as a means of enhancing business performance to access untapped reserves of talent and open new markets.

Opportunity includes tips on becoming confident about meeting the needs of employees and customers with disability, as well as important statistics, case studies and a checklist of actions businesses can take to make their products and services more accessible.

“Some of these are surprisingly simple, yet effective like having a pen and paper at a counter for customers who are hearing impaired.

“Organisations which are accessible to customers and employees with disability are more accessible and more appealing to all consumers and stakeholders.

“For Australian businesses, people with disability should be seen as a significant market and source of labour, not to mention a large group with spending power which can no longer be ignored” Mr Shorten said.

This publication is being launched alongside a new website which goes ‘live’ today, Disability Confidence, which will provide useful advice and links to assist employers and the community in getting more information about the business case for employing people with disability.