After fifteen years of economic growth, Australia still has the seventh lowest employment rate for people with disability, including mental illness, in the OECD. Attempts by previous governments to encourage people with disability into employment, including via Welfare to Work, have failed.
This paper, developed as a result of consultations with more than 700 interested people and around 300 submissions, sets the direction for a new National Mental Health and Disability Employment Strategy to be released in 2009. The directions are intended to closely reflect the priorities of the community. The proposed directions for the Strategy recognise that work connects people to the wider world, raises living standards and provides opportunities for a happier and more fulfilling life. It recognises that the best thing we can do for a person is to include them in the economy and society.
This paper outlines the approach the Australian government will take to increase employment for people with disability, including: improving disability employment services; providing greater encouragement, assistance and support for people with disability wishing to re-enter the workforce; innovation; tackling employer misconceptions; increasing Australian Public Service employment of people with disability; and improving access to education and training.