Media Release by The Hon Bill Shorten MP

$3 million Innovation Fund boost for disability employment

Joint Media Release with:

  • Senator the Hon Mark Arbib, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Government Service Delivery

Minister for Employment Participation Mark Arbib today announced Round 3 of the Rudd Government’s Innovation Fund will include $3 million for social enterprises focussed on jobseekers with disability.

Speaking at the national ACE Disability Employment Services Conference in Hobart today Senator Arbib said the Fund would include a component seeking social enterprise proposals that specifically target open employment of job seekers with disability.

‘The Australian employment market is showing great resilience with unemployment down to 5.2 per cent. In the past month 36,000 new full-time jobs have been created and 280,000 jobs created over the past 12 months,’ Senator Arbib said.

‘But we also need to make sure no one is left behind, and everyone who is able to participate in the labour market has the best opportunity to find a job.

‘That is why we’re dedicating the extra funding for people with disability who participate in the Disability Employment Services and Australian Disability Enterprise programs to be eligible to be employed in these social enterprises.

‘During the 2010-11 and 2012 years a total of $3 million has been provided for this initiative.

‘The Rudd Government is investing in training and employment services to help disadvantaged people secure a fair and productive Australia for the future.

‘The Innovation Fund projects support the Australian Government’s social inclusion agenda by funding original projects that help disadvantaged job seekers find employment.’

Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities Bill Shorten said the Innovation Fund would aim to support and develop social enterprises and help people with a disability obtain long-term jobs.

‘A job delivers a lot more than just financial independence. It gives a sense of contributing to the community and provides a social network and the camaraderie of the workplace.

‘Getting people with disability into work is the best way of getting them included in the community.

‘A process of consultation, including with ACE, is currently underway after which guidelines will be released. A call for submissions will be made during July.’

Mr Shorten said the extra funding added to the Rudd Government’s new Disability Employment Services which offer improved choice for job seekers and employers and more innovative service delivery.

‘For the first time, people with disability have direct access to the help they need to find and keep a job. There will be no waiting lists because the Government has uncapped services,’ Mr Shorten said.

‘Unlike the last Government we are focused on helping people with disability get work, not on punishing them.

‘People with disability want to work. The Rudd Government wants to do everything we can to ensure that we remove the barriers that discourage them.’