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Media Release by The Hon Bill Shorten MP

Government launches disability employment discussion paper

Joint Media Release with:

  • Jenny Macklin MP, Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs

The Gillard Government today released a discussion paper on improved support to Australians with severe or profound disability who need supported employment through Australian Disability Enterprises.

Community Services Minister, Jenny Macklin, said the discussion paper, Inclusion for people with disability through sustainable supported employment, offered a starting point for a new ten-year vision which will see people with disability achieving greater participation and inclusion in the community through quality supported employment.

“The Government is committed to an Australia where people with disability have the same opportunities as other Australians to have a job where possible, participate in the community and have a meaningful life,” Ms Macklin said.

“Australian Disability Enterprises are doing a great job in providing work for more than 19,000 people who would otherwise be unemployed, and we want to work with the sector to expand those opportunities.

“The Government is working in partnership with Australian Disability Enterprises to ensure the experiences of people in supported employment meet their career goals and aspirations whilst also ensuring the commercial viability and sustainability of the sector.”

This discussion paper progresses key commitments of the Gillard Government following Australia’s ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its release of the National Mental Health and Disability Employment Strategy.

Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities, Bill Shorten, said that work was the cornerstone of social inclusion for people with disability, and Australian Disability Enterprises provided dignity and purpose to many people with disability.

“As well as financial independence, fulfilling work builds self-esteem, provides friendships and gives a person respect,” Mr Shorten said.

“These benefits should not be denied to people just because they have an impairment, and Australian Disability Enterprises are on the frontline of providing equal treatment for people with disability.”

“There has been real progress in recent years to strengthen and improve the supported employment system, but there are still many barriers preventing people with disability from being part of the workforce.”

“We want to improve the quality and inclusiveness of the supported employment system.”

“We are keen to hear people’s ideas about the future direction of supported employment to help the Australian Government develop a new vision for supported employment.”

The Gillard Government recently increased funding for Australian Disability Enterprises by $4.5 million in the 2010/11 financial year, bringing total funding to $204 million.

The Government has also appointed an Advisory Committee on Australian Disability Enterprises to guide the consultation process and give expert advice to Government.

Committee representatives include:

  • Dr Ken Baker, Chief Executive Officer, National Disability Services
  • Mr David Barbagallo , Chief Executive Officer , Endeavour Foundation
  • Ms Marion Gaynor, Research Officer, Australian Council of Trade Unions
  • Ms Lesley Hall, Chief Executive Officer, Australian Federation of Disability Organisations
  • Ms Samantha Jenkinson, Member of the Ministerial Advisory Council on Disability
  • Mr Neil Preston OAM , Chief Executive Officer, Greenacres Disability Services
  • Kevin Robbie, Director Employment and Social Enterprise, Social Ventures Australia

Additional members will be appointed to represent academia and key customer groups for Australian Disability Enterprises and to provide general business expertise.

For more information, including a copy of the discussion paper and details about making a written submission or joining in a community consultation, visit: www.fahcsia.gov.au.

The closing date for written submissions is Friday, 17 September 2010.