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Access to employment for people with disabilities hasn't improved over last 20 years

How readily does your workplace accommodate people with disabilities?

If you could answer positively, then you're the exception rather than the rule: a recent report by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) shows that labour force participation hasn't really changed over the last six years despite the National Disability Agreement.

The report shows that, in 2009, the labour participation rate for people with a disability sat at 54% – well below the national average of 83% for people without a disability. Western Australia was the only state to show some improvement over the last six years, with labour force participation rising from 55% in 2003 to 62% in 2009. The Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory both performed above the national average during this period too.

"It would have been good to report some solid gains between 2003 and 2009, but in the area of workforce participation, there was very little improvement for people with disability and that was despite an improving labour market," commented COAG chairman Paul McClintock AO.

There are simple steps employers can take to improve access for people with disabilities. As a starting point, review your policies for recruitment and employment – build access and equity into the way you manage your people. Start the conversation and talk to any employees with disabilities about how tasks can be adapted to meet their needs.

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