Skip to main content

National Inquiry into Employment and Disability: Employer Consultation - Sydney, 7 July 2005

National Inquiry into Employment and Disability

Employer Consultation - Sydney, 7 July 2005

Hosted by the Council for Equal Opportunity in Employment Limited (CEOE Ltd) and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

See Appendix A for list of participants.

Summary of discussions

Employer representatives around the table shared their corporate experiences regarding employment policies and practices for people with disabilities.

They discussed some of the problems and strategies associated with recruitment and retention of people with disabilities. They also provided feedback on some of the Inquiry's draft recommendations.

Suggestions for improving recruitment of people with disabilities

Create incentives to recruit people with disabilities

  • Encourage leadership at the top levels of management
  • Recognise and promote good employers
  • Set aspirational targets regarding diversity in the workplace
  • Impose compulsory reporting of disability employment statistics for the private and public sector (eg reporting under the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Act 1999 (Cth))
  • Develop and promote the business case for hiring people with disabilities in the context of a decreasing pool of skilled labour
  • Dispel myths about the productivity sacrifices associated with the employment of people with certain disabilities
  • Provide subsidies where there are real productivity sacrifices
  • Provide increased subsidies for workplace modifications where needed
  • Create government-funded long term (eg 6 months to 1 year) work trials that remove risk, provide ongoing support and demonstrate the benefits of hiring people with disability

Provide incentives to recruitment agencies to refer people with disabilities

  • Large companies could nominate preferred recruiters on the basis of their referrals
  • Award schemes for recruitment companies

Provide easy to use, comprehensive information and advice to employers

  • Professional advice about any workplace modifications that may be needed and how to implement them
  • Advice about ongoing support needs
  • Confidential inquiry service

Address risks associated with unfair dismissal, occupational health and safety and disability discrimination laws

  • Clear guidelines as to what can and cannot be done under these laws
  • Work trials with exemptions from liability for employers
  • Availability of consultants to undertake risk assessments, especially for small businesses

Employers can refer people with intellectual disabilities to contractors

  • Large companies can refer employment services and recruiters to the contractors that undertake entry-level tasks on their behalf

Suggestions for improving retention of people with pre-existing and acquired disabilities

Provide ongoing support for employers

  • Create a hotline that allows employers to ask questions about how to handle issues that arise with employees with disabilities (option of confidentiality)
  • Provide professional advice and assistance regarding workplace accommodations eg workplace assessors, assistive technology
  • Provide training for managers regarding how to identify problems and solutions

Promote and share expertise and information amongst employers

  • Create a database that includes tested workplace policies and practices
  • Create a credible awards and recognition scheme for good employers

Provide ongoing support for employees

  • Create a hotline that allows employees with a disability to seek advice and assistance regarding workplace and other disability-related issues

Ensure clear job descriptions for employees

Create a flexible workplace for all employees where feasible

  • Investigate the possibility of composite jobs
  • Ask staff about their preferred working hours

Create an inter-sector coalition

  • There must be clear goals and outcomes.
  • The forum could foster discussion amongst employers and other sectors eg employees, disability groups, government, unions
  • The forum could identify and promote strategies for change amongst the employer (small, medium, large) and employee community

Appendix A: Participant List


Dr Sev Ozdowski OAM, Human Rights Commissioner, Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission

Vanessa Lesnie, Secretary to Inquiry, Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission

Cristina Ricci, Policy Officer, Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission

Maria Chmiel, Customer Relations Manager, CEOE Ltd

Susie Whillas, Senior Consultant, CEOE Ltd

Chrissie Tucker, Manager Diversity, HR Division, ABC

Nicole Fenech, S&D Resource Manager, IBM

Michelle Filo, Human Resources Manager, Krispy Kreme Australia

Ian Lilley, Employee Relations Manager, Star City

Kim O'Brien, Workforce Diversity Training Officer, Australia Post

Jane Sharpe, Human Resources, BOC

Anne Spiteri, Diversity Coordinator, AMP

Katriina Tahka, Diversity Manager, AMP

Philip Willcockson, People Resources Consultant, McDonald's Australia


Melinda Fuller, Human Resources, EDS Australia

David Russell, Employee Relations Manager, BOC

Rohan Squirchuk, Managing Director, CEOE Ltd

Edweena Stratton, Director of People Development, Krispy Kreme Australia .