Media Release by The Hon Bill Shorten MP

Boosting employment for people with disability and mental illness

Joint Media Release with:

  • The Hon Brendan O'Connor MP, Minister for Employment Participation

The Rudd Government today released a paper which outlines its approach to increasing employment for people with disability including mental illness.The Minister for Employment Participation, Brendan O’Connor, and , Bill Shorten, released of Setting the Direction which will guide the Rudd Government’s National Mental Health and Disability Employment Strategy.

The paper sets the direction of the Strategy and details what the Government has already achieved in the area of boosting employment for people with disability.

The paper closely reflects the priorities of the community, drawing on the results of consultations with more than 700 interested individuals and groups and more than 300 submissions.

Throughout the consultations the Government heard that people with disability want to work and participate in society.

The Strategy is an important part of the Rudd Government’s Social Inclusion Agenda, which recognises that one of the best ways to help a person is to make them part of the mainstream economy.

Six priority areas for action identified in the paper include:

  • Improving disability employment services: the Government has released a discussion paper outlining major reforms to the Disability Employment Network and Vocational Rehabilitation Services from March 1 2010 including removing all service caps and making services demand driven.
  • Supporting and encouraging employers: the Government will work with employers to promote the business case for employing people with disability, as well as improve and promote information about available assistance, such as disability employment services, workplace modifications and support to employers.
  • Engaging people with disability: a number of barriers such as adapting work and study to accommodate episodic conditions and meeting non-discretionary costs associated with employment for people with disability such as transport and equipment need to be addressed.
  • Innovation: new approaches by employers and governments will increase the employment and retention of people with disability in employment.
  • Direct government employment of people with disability: the Government is putting in place better practices to promote the employment of people with disability including the creation of a Public Employee’s Disability Network and training for managers.
  • Better access to education and training: As with the broader community people with disability should be provided with education, training and skills needed to secure and maintain employment.

The Strategy is due to be finalised next year. The Government has already begun implementing a number of reforms in a bid to increase employment
for people with disability. These include:

  • Announcing major reforms to the $1.2 billion Disability Employment Services including uncapping services which means that eligible job seekers with disability, including school leavers, are able to access a place in employment services.
  • Providing $408 million for the National Disability Agreement between federal, state and territory governments.
  • Developing a National Disability Strategy to ensure the United Nations Convention on the rights of Persons with Disabilities are integrated into public policy.
  • Removing disincentives to employment for Disability Support Pension recipients who wish to volunteer for employment assistance without having their eligibility for the pension reviewed.
  • Improving Australian Disability Enterprises including changing Commonwealth procurement guidelines.
  • Announcing 750 new places for supported employment for people with disability
  • Announcing new draft Disability Standards for Access to Premises to make it easier to employ people with disability by improving their access to public workplaces.

Copies of the paper, including alternate formats, can be ordered by calling 1300 363 079 (TTY 1800 554 609), or emailing Employment Strategy (

Electronic formats of the paper and more information on the Strategy is available at DEEWR website