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Interim Report of the National Inquiry into Employment and Disability released

Commission Commission – General

19 August 2005

Interim Report of the National Inquiry into Employment and
Disability released

The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission has today released an Interim
Report of the National Inquiry into Employment and Disability titled 'WORKability:
People with Disability in the Open Workplace'.

Acting Disability Discrimination Commissioner Dr Sev Ozdowski said the main
aims of the Inquiry, which was launched in March this year, are to identify
the primary reasons for low participation and employment rates for people with
disabilities, and to work towards practical, achievable solutions.

"Statistics show that people with disabilities participate in the workforce
at lower rates, they are less likely to be employed when they do participate,
and they will earn less if they do get a job. This has been the case for a
long time and the problem is not just ongoing, it seems to be getting worse,"
said Dr Ozdowski.

"There have been several investigations into the issue over
the past few years, but these have tended to examine either the employee
perspective or the government perspective, or less frequently, the employer
perspective. This Inquiry has taken a more holistic approach to the employment
of people with disability."

To date, the Inquiry has collected 133 written submissions, conducted five
group consultations and published five Issues Papers for public comment.

The Commissioner said the purpose of the Interim Report is to summarise the
concerns and suggestions contained in the submissions made to the Inquiry;
to make Interim Recommendations on the basis of those submissions; and to set
out a plan for further action.

"Feedback to the Inquiry so far suggests that a lack of quality information,
the costs of participation and employment, and the risks if a job didn’t
work out were the main issues of concern to both employees with disability
and employers," Commissioner Ozdowski said.

"The Interim Report addresses these issues and makes Interim Recommendations
which seek to address these primary concerns."

Comments are welcomed on the Interim Report and Interim Recommendations, so
they can be incorporated into a final report which is due to be published by
the end of 2005. All submissions are due by 30 September 2005.

The Commissioner particularly encouraged practical suggestions from employers
on what needs to be done to deliver more jobs for people with disabilities.

Dr Ozdowski also welcomed the announcement by the Attorney-General that Disability
Standards for Education are now in force under the Disability Discrimination
Act 1992
, following years of work by representatives of education authorities
and people with disabilities to develop these standards.

"Our Inquiry has highlighted
the importance of education and training as the foundation for participation
in the modern workplace," the Commissioner

"These Standards should lead to further progress towards equal opportunities
for people with disabilities by making it easier for education and training
providers to understand and implement their responsibilities, and clearer for
people with disabilities to see what rights they have."

For information about the Inquiry, Issues Papers, current submissions, the
full Interim Report and Interim Recommendations, or to make a new submission,
visit the Inquiry website at:

Media contact: Paul Oliver (02) 9284 9880 or 0408 469 347


updated 19 August 2005.