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Media Release by The Hon Bill Shorten MP

Private sector commits to employing more people with disability

Over 20 organisations and peak bodies today signed a Statement of Intent committing to employing more people with disability.

The Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Children’s Services, Bill Shorten, said the statement acknowledges the significant advantages of employing and professionally developing people with disability.

‘The statement is a win for both people with disability and the private sector,’ Mr Shorten said.

‘Signatories include organisations such as the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Australian Council of Trade Unions, ANZ, Westpac and St George Banks, Coles Australia, and Woolworths.

‘This is a great opportunity to bring together disability and business.

‘Studies in Australia and overseas have shown that people with disability want to work and are often strong candidates for the job.

‘The findings demonstrate people with disability are very reliable having comparably low rates of sick leave and accidents in the work place.

‘Through the employment of people with disability we can further break down the barriers present in our community.

‘This statement represents a positive step in the right direction for both Australian businesses and the disability community.’

The Statement of Intent is supported by the Rudd Government’s reforms to Disability Employment Services, which will begin on 1 March 2010.

These reforms will deliver a more streamlined and flexible system with services provided on demand.

The new Disability Employment Service includes two clearly defined and demand-driven programs, along with improvements to the Employer Incentives Scheme.

A significant feature of the new program is that the Government is lifting existing caps on services. This means thousands of extra people will get access to the disability employment services they need.

Mr Shorten said the Rudd Government had also released its National Mental Health and Disability Employment Strategy, which set out a number of priority actions to get Australians with disability and mental illness into work.

‘This document, released by myself and Minister for Employment Participation Mark Arbib, outlines how we will work to improve employment opportunities for people with disability.’

The Australian Government will continue to work with stakeholders including consumers, peak bodies, employers, state and territory governments and experts to increase education and employment opportunities for people with disability and make services work better for them.

The Statement of Intent and full list of signatories is available at Statement of Intent – Working Together for Ability .