People who are living with a disability are vastly overrepresented in New Zealand’s poverty figures, and 74 percent of those who are not in work want to be working. Our research shows a pressing need to break down the barriers to employment for these New Zealanders, to allow them to access this key pathway to belonging and participation in society.
A belief in the value and dignity of every person, whether they have a disability or not, cannot be passive—it requires action. Increasing the role of employment as a pathway out of poverty for people with disabilities will not only be beneficial to those people, but will also be beneficial for the employers that hire them, as well as our wider society.
People with disabilities seeking work face significant barriers. Many employers have incorrect perceptions of the costs of disability, support available, different abilities of people with disabilities, and benefits of employing people with disabilities.
We see opportunities for employers, government bodies, and advocacy groups to work together to acknowledge the abilities of all New Zealanders, so that people with disabilities can participate in all areas of society. Our work on this project will continue with a policy paper outlining more specific and detailed recommendations of how each sector of society can make a tangible difference.