Skip to main content

National Inquiry on Employment and Disability Interim Report: chapter 2

  • Back to contents
  • National Inquiry on Employment and Disability

    Interim Report:
    2.  Information needs, costs and risks for employers

    2.1 Introduction

    2.2 Who are the potential employees with disability?

    2.3 What are the business benefits of employing people with disability?

    2.4 What information do employers need?

    2.4.1 The business case for hiring people with disability

    2.4.2 Recruitment services

    2.4.3 Financial information: costs and government assistance

    2.4.4 Technical assistance regarding workplace accommodations

    2.4.5 Training assistance

    2.4.6 Best practice workplace policies and case studies

    2.4.7 Information about specific disabilities

    2.4.8 Legal implications of hiring people with disability

    2.4.9 Referral services

    2.5 What costs may be incurred by employers?

    2.5.1 Accessible premises

    2.5.2 Workplace modifications

    2.5.3 Wage costs and incentives

    (a) Supported Wage System

    (b) Wage Subsidy Scheme

    (c) Disabled New Apprentice Wage Support (DNAWS) scheme

    2.5.4 Recruitment costs

    2.5.5 Ongoing support costs

    2.5.6 Tax incentives

    2.6 What risks may face employers?

    2.6.1 Organisational culture risks

    2.6.2 Litigation and insurance risks

    2.6.3 Training and work trials

    2.7 What are the special needs of small business?

    2.8 How is the public sector performing as an employer?

    2.9 Conclusion

    2.1  Introduction

    Issues Paper 3, which was issued on the launch of the Inquiry, discussed the incentives and disincentives regarding employment of people with disability from the perspective of employers.

    A large number of the submissions made to the Inquiry addressed the issues raised in that paper, however very few spoke directly from an employer perspective.

    Nevertheless, the Inquiry heard from employer peaks in its Sydney Forum in March 2005. Further, with the help of Employers Making a Difference (EMAD), an employer-only forum was held in Brisbane in April 2005. The Council for Equality of Opportunity in Employment Limited (now called the Diversity Council of Australia) hosted another employer-only forum in July 2005.[1]

    A general review of the written submissions and information gathered in the consultations raised these themes in particular:

    1.  Employers need help to remove the fear factor and see the business benefits of hiring people with disability.

    2.  Employers need to have information that makes it easy to hire and retain people with disability

    3.  Employers need to know that it is not going to cost too much to hire and retain people with disability

    4.  Employers need to know that it is not too risky to hire and retain people with disability

    5.  Small business may have additional needs when hiring people with disability

    6.  Public sector employers need to show leadership in hiring people with disability.

    The low numbers of submissions from employers also suggests that there should greater efforts to engage employers in the discussion about employment of people with disability. The Employer Roundtable convened by the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations in May 2005 is one step towards achieving this goal.

    This paper discusses the six issues above, to the extent that the information is available in the submissions or other material sent to the Inquiry.

    2.2Who are the potential employees with disability?

    Issues Paper 1 sets out a variety of statistics regarding the employment of people with disability and they will not be repeated here. However, it became apparent to the Inquiry that there was some uncertainty about who makes up the group called 'people with disability'. In particular, it seems that many assume that this group primarily comprises people with severe mobility, sensory or intellectual disabilities. From the employer perspective, there can be the corresponding assumption that all 'people with disability' require substantial workplace adjustments and have high ongoing needs.

    In fact, the statistics suggest that there are many people with disability who do not require a great deal of assistance or workplace accommodation. Forty five per cent of people with disability aged between 15 and 64 years of age will only need minor adjustments and supports to participate in the workplace (identified as having a mild or moderate core activity limitation). Twenty two percent of people with disability aged between 15 and 64 years of age may need more significant supports to participate in the workplace (identified as having a severe or profound core activity limitation). [2]

    Further, depending on the disability and the job, it does not necessarily follow that a person with a severe disability will require substantial workplace adjustments. This is not to minimise the need to ensure that the appropriate accommodations and the proper supports are in place, if needed in the circumstances. However, it is important to understand that, more likely than not, those adjustments will be relatively minor.

    Further, it is important to clarify that workplace adjustments are not just about creating the appropriate conditions for new employees who have a disability. Rather, those adjustments are more likely to be required in order to retain existing employees. This is because the vast majority of people with disability of working age (15-64 years old) are likely to acquire a disability at a time when they already have a job.

    Australian Bureau of Statistics figures indicate that 40 per cent of people with disability of working age attribute their disability to an accident, injury, work related or life event. Twenty per cent of people with disability say that their disability was present at birth or due to illness, disease or hereditary factors. Twenty one per cent attribute their disability to 'just came on or due to old age'. Three percent say their disability is due to allergy, smoking or side-effects of medication or medical procedures. And 16 per cent attribute their disability to other causes.[3]

    Further, fourteen percent of people with disability aged between 15 and 64 identified the main cause of their disability to be from working conditions, work or overwork. And 21 percent of people said their disability arose though sporting, driving and other injuries.

    2.3  What are the business benefits of employing people with disability?

    During the Inquiry's Brisbane Employer Forum, participants emphasised that it was important for employers to better understand the benefits of employing a person with disability.[4]

    The starting point for a discussion about the benefits of hiring people with disability is to emphasise that, like any other group of people, the skill set of people with disability covers the full spectrum.[5]

    Thus, the first advantage of considering people with disability potential employees is that it adds to the pool of people who may be suited to a particular job.[6] This is especially important given the current concern about a shortage of skilled labour in Australia.

    Secondly, a business that is careful to match the abilities of an individual with the requirements of a job will not be at any disadvantage if that person has a disability. In other words, if the focus is on what a person can do, rather than on what he or she cannot do, then the primary factor for decision making is whether the person is well suited to the particular job. Some submissions and research suggest that a business that focuses on good job matching will be a more efficient business, and if that is the case it makes little difference whether a person does or does not have a disability.[7]

    The Disability Council of NSW (DC NSW) applies that same logic to the institution of a flexible workplace. DC NSW notes that a business that focuses on the individual differences of its employees and ensures that its workplace can cater to those needs, will be a better working environment for all employees whether or not they have disabilities.[8] For example, a workplace policy that is flexible enough to cope with the emergencies that face a working parent will more easily absorb the emergencies that face a person with disability, or any other person for that matter.

    Participants at the employer consultations, and some of the written submissions, note that there is evidence of a link between strong workforce diversity policies and increased satisfaction amongst staff (whether or not they have a disability) and customers. In a competitive labour market, it can be important to companies to be an employer of choice.[9]

    Furthermore, the institution of more careful staff training and supervision practices has been shown to benefit overall productivity, workplace and customer relations.[10]

    Other submissions to the Inquiry noted additional reasons why hiring people with disability might benefit a business, including:

    • Australian and international studies show higher levels of workplace safety, performance and staff retention in employees with disability[11]
    • Absenteeism is lower amongst employees with disability[12]
    • Lower staff turnover[13]
    • A diverse workforce can possibly link to potential markets with similar diversity[14]

    To the knowledge of this Inquiry, the most recent study of the benefits to business in hiring people with disability was conducted in 2002 by four academics at Deakin University.[15] The study involved a survey of 643 Australian employers who had employed a person with disability. The research found that employers reported an overall positive effect on organisational performance when hiring people with disability. The paper set out the following possible reasons for this outcome:

    Integrating an employee with a disability into a work environment including training and supervisory practices, basic work practices, and health and safety issues may raise awareness of previously less than optimal conditions in that work environment. ... This heightened awareness may lead to improved practices by workplace trainers, supervisors, health and safety representatives. Another possible reason for the generally positive reported effect that an employee with a disability has had on overall organization performance relates to improved co-worker and customer relations ... since high morale has often been associated with high performance within organizations. A third possible explanation is that the individual performance of an employee with a disability, in terms of reliability and productivity measures, may raise expectations and standards for all employees ... In any case, an employee with a disability can be seen as a catalyst for positive change, a catalyst for improved organisation performance.[16]

    The study concludes by noting the 'importance of increasing workplace diversity to continuing organisation development, the importance of compliance with the law and community standards, and the importance to good business relationships within the organization and the community.'[17]

    2.4  What information do employers need?

    Employers who wish to employ more people with disabilities often do not know what to do, what supports they can get, and what models of best practice they can adopt. There are so many different organisations and supports involved in part of the process, that it is very confusing.[18]

    It is abundantly clear from the consultations conducted by the Inquiry, and the written submissions made to the Inquiry, that there needs to be a one-stop-information-shop available to employers, people with disability, employment service providers and government service providers.[19]

    The absence of adequate and accessible information is not only a problem for employers who have already decided to employ people with disability; it is a major disincentive for those employers who have not yet made that decision. In particular it feeds the perception of many employers that hiring a person with disability 'is just too hard'.[20]

    The problem is not really about an absence of information, rather it is about the difficulty of finding relevant information. The information that is available is in a piecemeal form, making it difficult for an employer to get a clear picture about how to find people with disability with the skills needed, how to access any financial or technical assistance and how to support people with disability once in employment.[21]

    An employer's willingness to hire a person with disability may well be influenced by the availability of an information source that is:

    • comprehensive
    • easy to find
    • easy to use
    • supported by a personalised service (face-to-face, phone or email).

    There would need to be wide promotion of the existence of such a source for it to have any real impact on employer decisions.

    The Equal Opportunity Commission of Victoria (EOCV) made the following recommendation:

    Employer organisations, the Federal government and non-government organisations should work together to establish a Disability Employment Resource Centre. This would be a central storehouse of information about the hiring of people with disabilities, with the capacity to refer to specialist expertise as desirable. The marketing of such a central repository, and any other available sources of information, would require significant strategic support and funding.[22]

    While there is no debate about the need for a comprehensive information source, there is some question about what sort of information should be incorporated into such a source.

    It is clear that there will need to be further consultation with employer peak bodies and individual employers in order to identify the information that is most useful to them. However several suggestions have been made in the submissions to the Inquiry and the various consultations conducted with employers.

    2.4.1  The business case for hiring people with disability

    As discussed above, some employers are unaware of the business case for hiring people with disability.[23]

    The EOCV submission referred the Inquiry to an organisation in the United States called the Employer Assistance and Recruiting Network (EARN). The EARN website sets out the business case for employing people with disability on its 'Private Employers' page.[24] It lists the following advantages and provides links to further information on each of these issues:

    Hiring people with disabilities.

    Positively impacts your bottom line.

    Increase employee retention.

    Meet or exceed performance standards.

    Hire employees with the skills you need.

    Gives you a competitive edge.

    Attract qualified employees in a shrinking workforce.

    Reduce costs of employee benefits.

    Gain insight to a multi-billion dollar market segment.

    Acquire creative problem-solving skills.

    Is easier than you might think.

    Level the playing field with technology.

    Make accommodations easy and cost effective.

    Take advantage of available resources and experts.[25]

    The Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (DEWR) JobAble website provides a link to a short Fact Sheet setting out some of the benefits of employing people with disability. The Fact Sheet notes productivity advantages of hiring people with disability and that there is access to the Workplace Modifications Scheme.[26] Expansion of this information may be useful to employers.[27]

    2.4.2  Recruitment services

    Many employers are unaware of, or confused by, the services available to assist them in employing a person with disability.[28]

    There are a variety of government-funded employment services and private recruitment agencies that have access to workers with disability. Providing easy access to those services should increase the likelihood that an employer will find someone to match their needs.

    While DEWR has an employer portal on its JobAble website, it does not currently provide an easy sign-up service for employers or any links to information about where to recruit people with disability.[29]

    Information about recruiting people with disability is also found on the Disability Works Australia website, however there is not a link between this site and JobAble.[30]

    By contrast, the American EARN website provides free recruitment services to employers. The 'Private Employer' page sets out the following relevant services:

    Unlimited job postings distributed to numerous local employment service providers. With one toll-free call from you, EARN starts looking for the right candidate to fill your job.

    Signing up with our service gives you free access to a network of employment service providers who work with people with disabilities looking to join or return to the workforce. Let us save you time by distributing your job posting to local organizations such as:

    • Colleges and universities
    • Community colleges
    • State vocational and rehabilitation agencies
    • Non-profit organizations
    • "Career One Stops"
    • Professional associations

    Providers who are part of EARN select candidates for job postings. EARN then further screens these candidates and only sends you resumes of those candidates we feel meet the requirements of your job.[31]

    2.4.3  Financial information: costs and government assistance

    As discussed below, one of the major barriers facing employers relates to perceptions about the financial costs that may accompany the employment of people with disability.

    A one-stop-information-shop should fulfil a variety of functions regarding that potential financial burden.

    First, sometimes employers assume that the costs are greater than they really are. In the United States, a survey of over 700 users of the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) found that more than 70 per cent of accommodations cost less than $500.[32] Thus it seems that while employers may believe that workplace accommodations will cost thousands of dollars, they are more likely to cost hundreds. However, unless there is a place for employers to go to clarify the actual cost, it will be difficult to remove the perception that a great expense is involved.[33]

    Second, there are a variety of government assistance packages that seek to defray the cost of taking on a person with disability (see further below). If an employer is unaware of: (a) the existence of the government package; (b) the extent of that assistance; (c) the eligibility criteria for that assistance; and (d) what needs to be done to access that assistance; then the impact of those incentives is greatly reduced.[34]

    The DEWR JobAble website has a Fact Sheet on Employer Incentives in its 'Employer' portal, although it is not very obviously displayed.[35] The United States EARN and Job Accommodation Network (JAN) websites provide examples of alternative ways to display the information.[36]

    2.4.4  Technical assistance regarding workplace accommodations

    Workplace accommodations become a far more daunting prospect when an employer has no help in ascertaining what is needed, how to make the changes or where to buy the necessary equipment.

    Many submissions discussed the problems caused by the absence of easily accessible information regarding workplace accommodations.[37] They urged the creation of a one-stop-information-shop to address workplace accommodation issues.

    The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission also convened a forum to discuss this issue in December 2004.[38] The purpose of the forum was to gather participants from government, employer representative bodies, private employers, disability employment and service agencies and other interested organisations to discuss the desirability and possibility for establishing an information and advice service modelled on the American JAN service. The group agreed that JAN provides a good starting point for an Australian information portal.[39] The EARN website also provides a variety of links regarding workplace accommodation.[40]

    JAN is funded by the US Department of Labor to provide, amongst other things, individualised accommodation information to employers. It also has a 'Searchable Online Accommodation Resource' (SOAR) which allows employers 'to explore workplace accommodation options by moving through a five step accommodation process.'[41] Further, it provides links to a variety of merchants who can supply the equipment needed to make workplace accommodations.

    It appears that the Commonwealth Government has some interest in developing an Australian information source along the lines of JAN. In the May 2005 Federal Budget, the Government announced that it would:

    ...see the development of a jobs accommodation service that will include a website and advice from experts in workplace adjustment. This will form the hub of an information and resource centre for employers seeking to employ people with disabilities.[42]

    2.4.5 Training assistance

    A one stop-information-shop should not only serve as a source of training for employers, it should assist in the training by employers of their employees.

    Many submissions talk about the need to increase employer awareness regarding the employment of people with disability.[43]

    For example, the Australian Association for the Deaf suggests that employers may need training on how to realise a Deaf person's potential as an employee and on communication strategies with Deaf people.[44] This sort of training would also be useful for the work colleagues of a Deaf employee.

    Furthermore, many submissions called for greater training of employers regarding mental illness. Several individuals and organisations argued that there is insufficient understanding of mental illness among both employers and co-workers.[45] The organisation beyondblue drew the Inquiry's attention to its workplace training program around depression.[46] beyondblue's consumer network, blueVoices, told the Inquiry:

    There should be compulsory workplace training to enable workplaces to understand the impact of mental illness and the worthy contribution which a person with a mental illness can make to the workplace.[47]

    The mere existence of a comprehensive one-stop-information-shop can assist in this regard. However it may be that there should be a specific portal providing access to employer training modules and programs. The JAN website provides links to a list of organisations that provide disability awareness training seminars.[48]

    Submissions to the Inquiry also indicate that employees with disability are missing out on opportunities to build their skills because training sessions are inaccessible to them.[49] Thus, it may be that employers need some assistance to ensure that their employees with disability can take advantage of the regular training courses provided by the organisation. For example, there may be a need to provide Auslan interpreters for Deaf employees; electronic versions of Power Point presentations for visually impaired employees; and accessible venues for employees with a physical disability.

    2.4.6 Best practice workplace policies and case studies

    One of the best ways to assist employers to develop workplace policies that encourage diversity and cater to the needs of its employees with disability is to provide best practice models.[50]

    Several submissions suggested that case studies illustrating the positive outcomes of hiring people with disability would also be very helpful to employers.[51] For example, submissions suggested that information could be provided about employers who have good policies regarding the employment of people with a mental illness.[52]

    DEWR's JobAble website notes a few case examples on its Fact Sheet relating to the benefits of hiring people with disability.[53] The JAN website provides sample policies and other advice to human resources managers.[54] The 'Private Employer' page on the EARN website links to a longer list of 'Success Stories' which provides more detail on the advantages of hiring people with disability.[55]

    2.4.7 Information about specific disabilities

    Ignorance about different disabilities can breed unwarranted fears and acts as a disincentive to employers to hire people with disability. It also makes it difficult to provide the appropriate supports in the workplace.[56]

    Many of the submissions from organisations representing people with mental illness highlighted that misperceptions about mental illness created a serious barrier to employment.[57]

    DEWR's JobAble website site provides some background information about a variety of disabilities and sets out some of the possible employment implications of those disabilities.[58] The JAN website also describes a variety of disabilities and suggests what accommodations should be made to cater to those disabilities.[59]

    2.4.8 Legal implications of hiring people with disability

    As discussed further below, there are a variety of laws relevant to the employment of all people which may have additional implications in the context of employees with disability. Many of the submissions to the Inquiry suggest that confusion about employer rights and responsibilities acts as a barrier to employers.[60]

    For example, the Regional Disability Liaison Officer and Disability Co-ordination Officer suggests that:

    To feel confident in employing people with disabilities employers need to have information available that clearly outlines;

    • Their rights and responsibilities as governed by each Act when recruiting and/or employing people with disabilities
    • Their rights and responsibilities when one or more Acts interact due to specific issues related to the employment of people with disabilities eg how OH&S legislation works together with disability legislation.[61]

    The DEWR JobAble website addresses the issues of occupational health and safety, workplace modification, insurance concerns and privacy in its 'Handy Tips'.[62] Information about discrimination laws can be found on the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission's website.[63] It appears however that this information is either insufficient or employers are unaware that it exists.

    In the United States, both the EARN and JAN websites provide legal information and links to further information about the Americans with Disabilities Act and other relevant legislation.[64]

    2.4.9  Referral services

    No website can cover all the information needed by, and answer all the questions of, each individual employer. It is therefore crucial to have a system for referring individuals to the service that can best address their problems.

    An Australian service would need to combine on-line and telephone information with appropriate referral to local disability employment service providers.[65]

    The personal inquiry line is regarded as one of the keys to the success of the JAN project.

    2.5  What costs may be incurred by employers?

    One of the major disincentives to employers who might otherwise employ a person with disability is the possibility of incurring additional costs. Some of the costs about which employers are concerned are real, for example the costs of making adjustments to the workplace that are not covered by government programs. The Disability Council of NSW (DC NSW) suggested that in some cases there is little financial support for employers who want to do the right thing.[66]

    However, some of the potential costs about which employers are concerned may not be a significant burden for employers in reality. One consideration is that the costs of employing a person with disability are not constant over time - while there may be initial costs to the organisation, there may also be savings in employing a person with disability through factors such as job retention and lower maintenance costs.[67]

    This section of the Interim Report considers both the potential costs to employers, and the government schemes that seek to defray those costs. Many of the submissions to the Inquiry commented on these schemes and the ways in which they could be improved.

    2.5.1  Accessible premises

    Employers may be concerned that the cost of making buildings accessible to people with physical disabilities will be prohibitively costly. This is especially the case for small and medium businesses:

    Employers are worried about the costs involved with setting up the infrastructure to employ someone with a disability and many have assumptions that the cost involved will be too great, especially the small-medium sized businesses.[68]

    The EOCV reported that:

    Often inadequate adjustments and adaptations are made in employment situations or not at all. The EOCV hears from many people with disabilities who state that they are excluded from employment because employers perceive that the adjustments required to assist them will be too costly or too difficult.[69]

    Several submissions saw the finalisation of the Access to Premises Standards as being an important step in facilitating the employment of people with disability.[70] However, the EOCV noted that there will still be a gap with respect to existing premises and employers will need to be encouraged to address this gap. They also make the recommendation that:

    Given the proposed amendments to the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 to include a general duty to make reasonable adjustments - it should be highlighted in the explanatory memorandum produced at the time of the proposed amendments that this also requires:

    • Employers to make the workplace physically accessible; and
    • Employers to investigate ways of providing adjustments.[71]

    The Deafness Forum Australia noted that Commonwealth agencies have a special responsibility to ensure that their premises are accessible.[72]

    Some employers have made a commitment to ensuring an accessible workplace. For example, IBM told the inquiry that they:

    Ensure IBM's buildings are accessible to employees, clients and the public by conducting building access audits to adhere to the Disability Discrimination Act, and prioritisation of the continual improvement of access at IBM's buildings.[73]

    Clearly the cost of making workplaces accessible need to be addressed and appropriate assistance made available to employers. One suggestion is that tax concessions be made available to those incorporating accessibility (Universal Design) into development plans and that there be fines for non-compliance.[74]

    2.5.2 Workplace modifications

    Some employers are concerned that workplace modifications will be extremely costly. This may inhibit their willingness to employ people with disability.[75]

    Organisations representing people with disability believe that the cost of reasonable adjustment is a major disincentive for employers and that 'initiatives that will assist an employer with costs associated with reasonable adjustment will therefore have the greatest impact on employment for people with disability'.[76]

    However research, both overseas and in Australia, suggests that the cost of modifying workplaces may be less than is often assumed. As noted earlier, in the United States, the majority of workplace modifications cost less than $500. Employers also report that making the accommodations can be an overall benefit for business.[77] In Australia, a study of 643 employers indicated:

    cost neutral effects for most workplace accommodations, with financial benefits outnumbering costs. There was a clear performance benefit advantage resulting from workplace modifications and changes to staff training and supervision associated with all aspects of organization performance except profit. These results suggest that employers have experienced material and non-material benefits to their organizations from employing a person with a disability, with those benefits being financially cost neutral or cost beneficial in a large proportion of cases.[78]

    It is important to recognise that workplace modification, or accommodation does not only involve adaptation of the physical environment or the purchasing of equipment.

    In the case of mental illness, for example, accommodations may involve strategies that ensure flexibility within the workplace. As discussed further in Chapter 6, submissions called for the development of workplace strategies like:

    (a)    allowing alteration of tasks to match varying capacity over time;[79]

    (b)   flexible work hours;[80]

    (c)    changing work hours to allow for periods of being unwell;[81]

    (d)   flexibility regarding sick leave;[82] and

    (e)    allowing work from home.[83]

    The main Commonwealth program available to assist employers with the cost of workplace adjustment is the Workplace Modifications Scheme (WMS). However, that scheme focuses on physical adjustments to the work environment.

    The JobAble website describes the operation of the scheme as follows:

    Currently to qualify for assistance, companies must employ the person for at least eight hours a week in a job that is expected to last for at least three months. A cap of $5,000 normally applies for each new worker, although flexibility exists to increase the amount. The sorts of modifications payed for include disability specialist IT software, adapting workplace tools and workstations in the workplace and providing specialist equipment for people with physical disabilities.[84]

    The NSW Disability Discrimination Legal Centre (DDLC) noted that the scheme has significant strengths. DDLC suggests that the adaptation of infrastructure, equipment and facilities will have flow on effects for other people who may have the same or similar disability who are later employed at the same workplace. In this way, the scheme offers broad, systemic and permanent benefits to employees with disability.[85]

    A significant number of submissions to the Inquiry raised concerns about the effectiveness of this scheme and recommended a variety of improvements.[86]

    First, submissions recommended that steps be taken to promote the scheme with a view to improving awareness and understanding in employers and job seekers.[87]

    Second, submissions recommended that eligibility for the scheme should be broadened.[88] In particular, submissions noted that the scheme is only available once a person has commenced employment. This means that an employer may not be in a position to assess a person's productive capacity in the recruitment process.[89] Further, an employer cannot access the scheme unless they recruit through a government-funded employment service.[90] In addition, some people (for example self-employed consultants) are not eligible for the scheme at all.[91]

    Third, submissions recommended broadening the types of modifications that would be covered by the scheme. For example, the scheme does not cover the cost of Auslan interpreters needed by people who are Deaf and hearing impaired.[92] The Australian Federation of Deaf Societies notes that it costs $6000 for the average annual interpreting requirements in the workplace for a person who uses Auslan. The Federation highlights that there are currently no government financial schemes that adequately address the cost of providing an Auslan interpreter.[93] Suggestions to improve access to accommodations for people with hearing impairments include:

    • to make equipment portable with the person with a hearing impairment, for example enable them to take a TTY from workplace to workplace; and  
    • to provide greater funding, including to the private sector, to cover interpreting costs.[94]

    The scheme cannot always cover expensive adaptive computer equipment needed by those with impaired vision.[95] Further, the scheme is not available to fund upgrading of technology for existing workers, or technology for job seekers to participate in work experience, work trials, or voluntary work.[96]

    Furthermore, submissions discussing the situation of people with a mental illness expressed concern that the program is not sufficiently able to meet the modification needs of people with a mental illness because their needs are more about workplace flexibility and support than equipment.[97]

    Finally, several submissions considered international approaches to subsidising workplace modifications. For example, in New Zealand the Job Support program provides a grant of up to $16,900 per person per year for workplace adjustments. Key features of this scheme include:

    • focus is on the individual and their specific needs in the workplace;
    • eligibility is open to any person with disability, including people in the open employment market; and
    • eligibility is not limited to people just entering the workplace.

    Furthermore, this scheme addresses the needs of people who are deaf and use sign uage.[98]

    Submissions also highlighted that even if an employer is entitled to reimbursement under the WMS, an employer may still be required to make a contribution. While $5000 is available for workplace accommodations, submissions suggest that there has recently been a policy where DEWR requires employers to make a contribution towards workplace accommodations.[99]

    Some employers may be disinclined to use a system where funds are available on a reimbursement basis only. This is especially the case if an employer undertakes to make modifications or improvements without prior approval, as there is no guarantee that they will be reimbursed for a modification or improvement which has not been first approved under the scheme.[100]

    Many of these concerns about the Workplace Modifications Scheme are articulated in the 2003 FaCS Review of the Employer Incentives Strategy, which found that:

    Overall, the concerns expressed most often by employers and DES [Disability Employment Service] providers in the consultations related to certainty of funding, efficiency in the program's administration and the suitability of its eligibility criteria.[101]

    FaCS reported that an average of $2,200 was reimbursed for each modification under this scheme between 1998 and 2002. There were approximately 275 successful applications per year (over 60 per cent with vision impairment or physical disabilities).[102] This figure appears rather low when one considers that there are approximately 680,000 people with disability in full-time employment.[103]

    The 2005 Standing Committee Working for Australia Report also considered the WMS scheme, making several recommendations that have been endorsed by employer representative groups such as the Ai Group. Those recommendations include extension of the eligibility criteria (Rec 15); extension of eligibility to part-time and casual positions (Rec 18); and an awareness raising program to promote the scheme to employers and employment services providers (Rec 16).[104]

    It appears that the Commonwealth Government has taken some of these recommendations on board. While in 2003-04, $700,000 was allocated to the scheme, the 2005 Budget announced an additional $25 million over 4 years. The Budget also announced a review of the eligibility requirements with the intent to broaden them. Further, the Budget papers suggest that work will be undertaken to improve the administration of the scheme.[105]

    2.5.3 Wage costs and incentives

    Some employers may perceive that employing a person with disability will be a cost to their organisation due to reduced productivity. [106] While there are some cases where a person with disability will in fact have reduced productivity, the Brotherhood of St Laurence points out that most workers with disability are just as productive as their non-disabled counterparts.[107]

    Nevertheless, there are a number of programs that aim to provide subsidies to wage costs, including the following:

    1.  Supported Wage System (SWS)

    2.  Wage Subsidy Scheme (WSS)

    3.  Disabled New Apprentice Wage Support (DNAWS) scheme.

    There is some debate as to whether or not financial subsidies like these have a substantial impact on employer decisions to hire people with disability. For example, one research paper suggests that:

    Research on financial incentives to the employer has found that subsidies have little impact on an employer's decision to employ a person with a disability. Factors such as ability to perform the job and a low risk of absenteeism are more powerful determinants for employers than financial incentives.[108]

    Nevertheless, submissions to the Inquiry indicated broad support for the Supported Wage System, with some concerns about the effectiveness of the Wage Subsidy Scheme.

    (a)    Supported Wage System

    The Supported Wage System (SWS) allows employers to pay employees at lower than award wages, according to their productivity. Nearly 10,000 individuals have gained employment under the program and have been paid productivity based wages since July 1994.[109]

    A 2001 review of this scheme found that while there was general support for this initiative, several improvements should be made. Those areas include:

    1.  Establishment of clear objectives, performance indicators and operational procedures

    2.  Improved program administration and assessment processes

    3.  Monitoring the impact of removing additional 'on the job support' funding for SWS placements

    4.  Awareness raising of the existence of the SWS.[110]

    These findings were generally reiterated in the 2003 FaCS Review of the Employer Incentives Strategy. Once again, that review found that although there was support for the scheme amongst both employers and Disability Open Employment Service providers, there were concerns about the assessment process, access to the program and the efficiency of its administration.[111]

    Similarly, submissions to this Inquiry argued that one of the strengths of this scheme is that a productivity-based subsidy may appeal to employers because it is premised on the traditional notion of 'a fair day's pay for a fair day's work'. Furthermore, a person on this scheme retains entitlement to their concession cards and associated assistance.[112] However, submissions expressed concerns including:

    • the scheme is not widely known by employers;[113]
    • eligibility is limited to those who are entitled to, or in receipt of, the DSP;[114]
    • the annual review of productivity is cumbersome; and[115]
    • the administration of the scheme is complicated and time consuming.[116]

    Suggestions for improvement of the scheme include:

    • increasing promotion to employers;[117]
    • extending the eligibility criteria to any worker with disability-related productivity issues;[118]
    • improving the assessment methodology, upgrading assessor accreditation and training and quality assurance; and[119]
    • streamlining administration.[120]

    The Inquiry also heard concern that this program is not designed to accommodate those who have episodic conditions, such as people with mental illness.[121]

    (b)    Wage Subsidy Scheme

    The Wage Subsidy Scheme provides a subsidy of up to $1500 to certain employers who hire a person with disability through a Commonwealth-funded open employment service. The employment must be with an 'eligible employer',[122] under mainstream employment conditions, be for at least 8 hours a week for a period of thirteen weeks and there must be a reasonable expectation that the employment will last beyond thirteen weeks.[123] The total subsidy paid cannot exceed the equivalent of 13 weeks wages (part-time or full-time) or 13 weeks duration, and payment must be made to the employer in arrears.[124]

    This scheme was also considered in the 2003 FaCS Review of the Employer Incentives Strategy. The review found that employers had mixed views about the utility of the scheme. Generally the deciding factor in employment was whether the candidate was the right person for the job, rather than eligibility for the wage subsidy.

    Some employers in the focus groups felt wage subsidies acted as a disincentive rather than an incentive as the subsidies reinforced the fear that they may not hire the right person for the job.[125]

    FaCS also considered international research about wage subsidy schemes:

    [S]ubsidies are often portrayed in the literature as a blunt instrument. The risks include that the subsidies may not last beyond the subsidised period, that workers may be stigmatised if their employment is subsidised, that non-disabled workers may be displaced and that "dead weight" effects in which placements may have happened without the subsidy may be significant.[126]

    Submissions to the Inquiry generally considered that this scheme provided an incentive to employers. However, they expressed a range of concerns about the scheme, including that:

    • the requirement that there must be an employee/employer relationship under 'a legal industrial agreement' is too restrictive and means there is no room for contractors and short-term employment contracts;[127]
    • the program is capped to a limit of $1500 per person;[128]
    • the administrative obligations are too onerous; and[129]
    • there is the potential of stigmatisation of subsidised workers, and displacement of existing workers.[130]

    Another general concern is that when the financial incentives have ceased, so might the employment option. Greater flexibility in payment and support options could avoid the termination of employment.[131]

    Suggestions for improvements to the Wage Subsidy Scheme include:

    • expanding and promoting employment subsidy programs to a wider range of occupations and employers, including skilled occupations; and[132]
    •   continuing the subsidy beyond 13 weeks to assist employers with providing ongoing support on the job for those who need it.[133]

    (c) Disabled New Apprentice Wage Support (DNAWS) scheme

    Another form of wage support is provided by the Disabled New Apprentice Wage Support (DNAWS) scheme. The submissions to the Inquiry suggest that the scheme provides a valuable financial incentive to employers to take on people with disability.[134]

    An employer of a new apprentice with disability, who satisfies the eligibility criteria and is undertaking a qualification at the Certificate II-IV level, is entitled to receive DNAWS at the rate of $114.73 a week to subsidise the wage paid. If the new apprentice is part-time, the rate is pro-rated according to hours worked.[135]

    New apprentices with disability are also eligible for assistance for tutorial, interpreter and mentor services. This is payable to the employer's registered training organisation. Tutorial mentor/interpreter services are subsidised at $38.50 an hour, up to a maximum of $5,500 for a new apprentice with disability who is experiencing difficulty with the off-the-job training component of their apprenticeship.[136]

    However, some disabilities, such as ADD and ADHD are not eligible, and it is argued that the medical assessments are too rigorous and stringent.[137]

    Centacare argues that access to the scheme should be reviewed and that the cost of the professional assessments that accompany the applications should not have to be borne by the employer.[138]

    TAFE NSW argues that the DNAWS scheme needs to be reviewed and 'brought into line with current training provider pay rates and the associated Australian Quality Training Framework Standards regarding equity'.[139]

    DNAWS is also discussed in Chapter 4.

    2.5.4 Recruitment costs

    The Commonwealth Government has established a Disability Recruitment Coordinator (the contract is currently held by Disability Works Australia) which provides a free recruitment service.

    The purpose of the service is to encourage employers to consider employees with disability. The Coordinator is intended to be a central point of contact for employers to get an overview of disability services and support incentives available.[140] The Disability Recruitment Coordinator also facilitates recruitment of people with disability on a large scale.[141]

    Scope Employment Services argues that employers are not sufficiently aware of the scheme and that there is inadequate information provided on the government's website.[142] The NSW Disability Discrimination Legal Centre argues that the Disability Recruitment Coordinator may not be adequately addressing the needs of employers who are not 'large employers'.[143]

    2.5.5  Ongoing support costs

    As discussed in some detail in Chapter 6, some people with disability will need ongoing support throughout the employment relationship. While the creation of supports may in fact be to the benefit of all employees, people with disability may have specific requirements which incur additional financial expenditure. The provision of ongoing government-funded support and advice for employers to assist their employees with disability could remove some of these concerns. Scope Employment Services argues that this kind of support should be available to employers when needed.[144]

    Ongoing support in open employment may be of particular concern to employers of people with mental illness. And given that one in five people are likely to suffer a mental illness at some time in their lives, this is an issue that most employers will need to deal with at some time.

    The Mental Illness Fellowship of Victoria argued that:

    Employers want guarantees that it is not going to "cost them" due to absenteeism or additional training. This refers to initial periods of support and training, and any ongoing needs that might emerge due to the episodic nature of mental illness, or changes in workplace demands.[145]

    In the case of mental illness the supports may also include the provision of education and support to employers and other employees regarding mental illness. The Mental Illness Fellowship regards the provision of post-placement, on-the-job support as a vital element in alleviating employer concern about this potential cost.

    Ability Technology observed that while funding for supports may be available at the commencement of the employment relationship, support and advice may be more difficult to access at a later date when either new technology or organisational restructuring may change a person's job. They argue that '[i]n the employer's mind such costs are probably melted into their fear of being 'stuck' with an employee with disability.[146]

    2.5.6  Tax incentives

    A number of submissions suggested that tax credits for employers may be an incentive to employ people with disability. For example the Disability Council of NSW suggests that:

    Tax incentives and depreciation options must be explored by the Australian Government to address the perception that employing people with disability will drain on the company's profits. It is important that an employer should not be financially worse off for employing a person with disability when compared with an employer who employs a person without disability.[147]

    Several submissions suggested a general investigation of tax incentives.[148] Specific ideas about the form of such incentives include creating credits for employers who provide reasonable adjustments in the workplace, including the costs of aids and equipment.[149]

    The possibility of tax incentives (both tax deductions and tax credits) is also noted in the 2003 FaCS Review of the Employer Incentives Strategy and the 2005 Standing Committee Working for Australia Report.[150]

    Tax incentives are most extensively used in the United States, although it appears that the take up of these incentives may not be as widespread as anticipated.[151] Information about tax incentives that operate in the United States can be found on both the Job Accommodation Network website and the Earnworks website.[152]

    2.6  What risks may face employers?

    Managers see that employing someone with a disability is taking a risk, and unless they are supported by senior management and the Board to employ people from disadvantaged groups, they are unlikely to do so.[153]

    There are two types of risk that appear to be barriers to the employment of people with disability from an employer's perspective - organisational culture risks and litigation risks.

    2.6.1  Organisational culture risks

    Employers say, it's all too hard, it might not work, there's too much risk and they'll never fit in.[154]

    The term 'organisational culture risks' refers to concerns about the impact that an employee with disability may have on other staff within an organiation or customers. The genesis of this concern lies in a fear of the unknown.

    The Mental Illness Fellowship of Victoria described the problem as follows:

    Stigma associated with mental illness impacts on employment opportunities. Some employers may believe that it is unsafe to have somebody with a mental illness in the workplace, or that their presence may lead to disharmony in the workplace. Employers generally have a lack of understanding of mental illness, particularly in relation to its episodic nature.[155]

    The Disability Employment Action Centre (DEAC) suggests 'that employers often assume that people with a mental illness will display violent behaviours in the workplace' when in fact this is a rare occurrence.[156]

    There is also concern that an employee with disability might create an overly-high burden on supervisors:

    Most employers have no understanding of disability until they have a direct connection with it. They feel that it would be too onerous and high-risk to constantly monitor an employee with a disability.[157]

    As suggested above, there is research suggesting that hiring people with disability actually has the opposite effect.[158] In other words, it tends to improve staff morale, customer relations and corporate images. However, unless an employer has a direct and positive experience with an employee, uncertainty seems to be the overwhelming determinant in decision making.

    Thus these sorts of risks are best addressed by easy access to clear information, freely available support services for employers and employees, opportunities for work trials and the sharing of positive experiences amongst employers.

    2.6.2  Litigation and insurance risks

    Submissions to the Inquiry suggest that employers are concerned that hiring a person with disability may expose their business to increased risks of litigation and higher insurance premiums. In particular there appears to be a fear that the business will be more vulnerable to unfair dismissal claims, workers compensation claims and discrimination claims.

    However, there is no clarity in the submissions as to how the risks are, in reality, heightened by hiring people with disability. Indeed several submissions suggest that they are not real risks at all; rather they are a manifestation of a general fear of the unknown or a misapprehension of the facts.[159]

    For example, there is no evidence that workers with disability have higher workplace accident rates.[160] And there is research suggesting that employees with disability cost marginally less in terms of safety and insurance costs.[161]

    The Disability Council of NSW suggests that:

    Employers must be firmly of the belief that people with disability are not significantly dissimilar to their other employees. They need to understand that in an environment of risk aversion, knowing the needs of potential employees before employing them is an advantage and not a disadvantage. The concern to avoid unfair dismissal, OH&S and discrimination claims applies to all employees.[162]

    There appears to be a great deal of confusion about how these workplace laws interact and apply to the employers of people with disability.[163] There is also concern about the impact of these litigation risks on insurance premiums.[164]

    Further, there seems to be uncertainty about the obligations under disability legislation. For example, it appears that employers may not understand that while the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth) protects against unlawful discrimination, it does not require an employer to hire somebody who cannot do the job.

    Nevertheless, while some of the risks may not be real, there do seem to be at least some genuine hurdles in the context of unfair dismissal laws, workers compensation laws, occupational health and safety regulations, and disability discrimination laws.[165]

    At the very least, there should be further investigation into the real impact of these laws on employers of people with disability.

    2.6.3  Training and work trials

    The opportunity to trial an employee prior to forming an ongoing employment relationship may address some of an employer's concern about the risks involved in employing a person with disability. Several submissions to the Inquiry argued that there should be greater support to assist employers in providing traineeships, work experience or work trials [166]

    Close consideration was given to the potential of work trials in the 2003 FaCS Review of the Employer Incentives Strategy. FaCS found that employers felt that placing a job seeker into a workplace on a trial basis is a highly effective way of addressing any fears about employing a person with disability and helping employees to test their skills.[167] However the report also found that employers had significant concerns, and that:

    Many wanted to clarify the requirements they would need to meet under industrial relations, occupational health and safety, and workers' compensation legislation. They were also concerned about insurance issues and potential liabilities under unfair dismissal legislation and the Disability Discrimination Act.[168]

    The FaCS report recommended that the Commonwealth government develop a 'robust platform' for work trials to address these concerns.[169]

    Submissions to the Inquiry also supported the idea of government-backed work trials.[170] ACE National Network argues that these should operate as:

    A full award wage work experience program . providing 13 weeks real work with on-site training and adequate insurance cover.[171]

    Ability Technology argues that a trial period of employment is vital, and that it is important to 'maximise a person's productivity by technology and training prior to the trial'.[172]

    The Brotherhood of St Laurence also gave an example of how work trials could operate:

    Fund paid work trials that enable employers to try out jobseekers with a disability for up to 13 weeks, agencies to showcase their services and jobseekers to demonstrate their abilities. FaCS have argued the need for developing a 'robust platform for work trials' (FaCS 2003). These could be funded either through a CRS-like 'Work Training Scheme' where government covers employers for workers compensation and pays the individuals a weekly training allowance, or through short-term award/trainee wage projects as currently run through the Victorian Government's Community Job Project.[173]

    2.7  What are the special needs of small business?

    Submissions to the Inquiry indicate that there may be a separate range of issues of concern to employers who own and operate small businesses. These concerns need to be addressed if small businesses are to employ people with disability.

    Small businesses may not have all of the information that they require to assist their decision-making about employment of people with disability. The Council for Equal Opportunity in Employment (now called the Diversity Council of Australia) told the Inquiry:

    While there are case studies and quantitative research which clearly indicate high level of productivity, lower or equal risks and reduced absenteeism for employees with a disability, much of this data is no longer current. In addition, while such data may be well known with Human Resources areas of medium and large businesses, the knowledge of managers at operational levels within such businesses tends to be low. In small business the lack of knowledge is likely to be even more pronounced. These factors lead to less employment opportunities for people with a disability [174]

    The submissions suggest that small businesses are less likely to employ people with disability.[175] This is of particular concern given the large number of small businesses operating in Australia.

    The National Diversity Think Tank indicates that small and medium sized employers may be particularly worried about the costs involved with setting up the infrastructure needed to employ someone with a disability.[176] The Australian Sign Language Interpreters Association reported that this may be a particular issue for those who are Deaf and hearing impaired, due to the high cost of interpreters.[177]

    The administration involved in government employer incentive schemes may also be a particular burden for small businesses.[178]

    2.8  How is the public sector performing as an employer?

    A large number of submissions to the Inquiry commented on the decreasing numbers of employees with disability in both the Commonwealth and State public sector.[179]

    Several submissions noted that one of the reasons for this may be a reduction of entry level positions.[180] Blind Citizens Australia suggested that there should be a review of the impact of multi-skilling in the public sector.[181]

    Submissions called for the public sector to lead the way in employing people with disability.[182] Several submissions called for affirmative action programs.[183] For example, DEAC recommended that:

    The Commonwealth reverse current Public Sector employment trends for people with a disability by drafting and implementing new and effective affirmative action policies.[184]

    The Victorian Deaf Society called for the Commonwealth and State governments to be model employers and actively seek Deaf people to work for them.[185]

    Other submissions suggested some form of quota system in the public sector.[186]

    An example of public sector leadership is the Western Australian government's 'Equity and Diversity Plan for the Public Sector Workforce 2001-2005'. The plan aims to encourage public sector agency leaders to increase the representation of people with disability by providing practical assistance and information to senior managers, line managers and human resource practitioners.[187]

    Submissions and discussion at forums convened by the Inquiry, also referred to a possible role for public sector leadership through adoption and promotion of accessible procurement policies.[188]

    2.9  Conclusion

    There is little point in encouraging people with disability to enter the open workplace without simultaneously encouraging employers to embrace those people as employees.

    At least part of the reluctance to treat people with disability as a valuable addition to the labour pool lies in an intangible 'fear factor'. Much of this fear stems from an absence of clear information about the real costs and risks associated with having employees with disability.

    The submissions to the Inquiry support the creation of a one-stop-information-shop that makes the business case for hiring people with disability and provides clear and simple information about the range of issues that might arise when hiring people with disability, including:

    • recruitment and support services
    • possible costs and the government subsidies available to cover them   
    • technical assistance regarding workplace accommodations
    • training assistance
    • legal implications
    • information about specific disabilities
    • best practice workplace policies
    • referral services to experts.

    The submissions also note that there may be some real costs when hiring people with certain disabilities, although they are often not as large as one might think. The submissions suggest broadening the various government schemes designed to defray those costs, as well as promotion of the existence of those schemes.

    In particular the submissions express concern about the effectiveness of the Workplace Modifications Scheme as currently designed. They also suggest consideration of tax credits for employers as a way of providing an incentive to hire people with disability.

    The submissions also note employer concerns about risks involved in hiring people with disability. It appears that some employers may be apprehensive about the possible impact of an employee with disability on the morale of other staff and customers. There seems to be an assumption that there will be a negative experience when in fact the research suggests the opposite.

    Employers may also be concerned about litigation and insurance risks under occupational health and safety laws, industrial relations laws and disability discrimination laws. It is uncertain whether those risks are in fact any higher for employers of people with disability, or whether they too can be explained by a fear of the unknown. However it is clear that there must be further research to clarify this issue.

    There is support for the creation of government-supported work trials that will give employers an opportunity to test a working relationship with people with disability without taking on great cost or risk.

    The submissions also note that the public sector has performed very poorly as an employer and urges leadership in this area.

    People with disability are an extremely diverse group both in the sense of their skills and their needs. Some people with disability will come from income support into the open workplace, some will be transferring between jobs, and others may be trying to stay in the same job having newly acquired a disability. When there is good matching between a person's abilities and the job that needs to get done, when the workplace is adaptable to the varying needs of all employees, and when there is an easy place to find out how to deal with different situations many of the additional fears, risks and costs disappear. This will be explored further in Chapter 6.

    Back to contents page | Next chapter


    [2] Australian Bureau of Statistics Disability, Ageing and Carers Australia (catalogue Number 4430.0, 2003) (Information mainly taken from Table 8 Persons aged 15-64, Living in households, Disability status by labour status and Table 12 Persons with a disability, cause of main health condition by main health condition) Some of the figures in Table 12 were adjusted by the ABS to reflect people with disability aged 15-64 so that comparisons between tables 8 and 12 could be made)

    [3] Australian Bureau of Statistics Disability, Ageing and Carers Australia (catalogue Number 4430.0, 2003) (Information mainly taken from Table 8 Persons aged 15-64, Living in households, Disability status by labour status and Table 12 Persons with a disability, cause of main health condition by main health condition) Some of the figures in Table 12 were adjusted by the ABS to reflect people with disability aged 15-64 so that comparisons between tables 8 and 12 could be made)

    [4] Employer Forum, Brisbane, 22 April 2002, http://www.humanrights.gov.au/disability_rights/employment_inquiry/forums/brisbane.htm. See also Submission 86, Ai Group, p3; Submission 113A, Australian Public Service Commission, p1.

    [5] Submission 36, ACTCOSS.

    [6] Submission 86, Ai Group, pp3-4; Submission 95, Westpac, p2; Submission 73, Regional Disability Liaison Officer and Disability Co-ordination Officer, pp25-26;

    [7] J Graffam, A Shinkfield, K Smith, U Polzin, 'Factors that influence employer decisions in hiring and retaining an employee with a disability', (2002) 17 Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation 175, p180.

    [8] Submission 49, Disability Council of NSW, p9. See also J Graffam, K Smith, A Shinkfield, U Polzin, 'Employer benefits and costs of employing a person with a disability', (2002) 17 Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation 251, pp256-7.

    [10] J Graffam, K Smith, A Shinkfield, U Polzin, 'Employer benefits and costs of employing a person with a disability', (2002) 17 Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation 251, p256.

    [11] Submission 86, Ai Group, p3. According to one submission retention rates amongst employees with a disability are up to 73% higher than the rest of the workforce: Submission 34, Manpower, p6. See also J Graffam, K Smith, A Shinkfield, U Polzin, 'Employer benefits and costs of employing a person with a disability', (2002) 17 Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation 251, p256.

    [12] Submission 86, Ai Group, p3; Submission 44, Australians for Diversity Employment, p1; Submission 45, NSW Council for Intellectual Disability (NSW CID), p5 referring to studies at http://diversityawork.com.au/disability/people/index/cfm and P Tuckerman, 'From School to Where?' ACROD NSW Conference, 2003. See also J Graffam, K Smith, A Shinkfield, U Polzin, 'Employer benefits and costs of employing a person with a disability', (2002) 17 Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation 251, p254.

    [13] Submission 44, Australians for Diversity Employment, p1.

    [14] Submission 118, EOCV, p6.

    [15] J Graffam, K Smith, A Shinkfield, U Polzin, 'Employer benefits and costs of employing a person with a disability', (2002) 17 Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation 251, p257.

    [16] J Graffam, K Smith, A Shinkfield, U Polzin, 'Employer benefits and costs of employing a person with a disability', (2002) 17 Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation 251, pp256-7.

    [17] J Graffam, K Smith, A Shinkfield, U Polzin, 'Employer benefits and costs of employing a person with a disability', (2002) 17 Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation 251, p258.

    [18] Submission 44, Australians for Diversity Employment, p3.

    [19] See for example, Submission 2, Casey; Submission 7, Name withheld; Submission 12, Australian National Organisation of the Unemployed; Submission 15, McCall (National Diversity Think Tank); Submission 23, Name withheld; Submission 28, Confidential; Submission 30, Mental Illness Fellowship of Victoria; Submission 34, Manpower Services; Submission 44, Australians for Diversity Employment; Submission 49, Disability Council of NSW; Submission 50, Deafness Forum Australia; Submission 51, Iscel; Submission 57, Queensland Department of Employment and Training; Submission 62, North Sydney Mental Health Consumer Network; Submission 68, ACE National Network; Submission 72, Scope Employment Services; Submission 73, National regional Disability Liaison Officers and Disability Coordination Officers Network; Submission 75, Law Institute Victoria; Submission 76, Stepping Stone Clubhouse; Submission 77B, RBS.RVIB.VAF Limited, p2; Submission 85, DDLC NSW; Submission 86, Ai Group; Submission 95, Westpac; Submission 99, City of Darebin; Submission 100, Brotherhood of St Laurence, p10; Submission 114, ACROD; Submission 118, EOCV; Submission 124, Department of Employment and Workplace Relations.

    [20] See, amongst others, Submission 15, McCall (National Diversity Think Tank), p17; Submission 49, Disability Council of NSW, p5; Submission 86, Ai Group, p2.

    [21] See, for example, Submission 49, Disability Council of NSW, p7.

    [22] Submission 118, EOCV, p5.

    [23] Submission 73, Regional Disability Liaison Officer and Disability Co-ordination Officer, pp25-26; Submission 90, Council for Equal Opportunity in Employment, p2.

    [27] Submission 43, Job futures, p2.

    [28] Submission 15, McCall (National Diversity Think Tank), p17; Submission 73, Regional Disability Liaison Officer and Disability Co-ordination Officer, pp21-22, 25; Submission 75, Law Institute of Victoria, p4; Submission 34, Manpower, p6.

    [30] Disability Works Australia, http://www.dwa.org.au/.

    [32] See Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, Forum Minutes, Needs and options for improved access to information and advice on accommodating disability in employment, Appendix B at http://www.humanrights.gov.au/disability_rights/employment/jan_forum_rep.htm. See also J Graffam, K Smith, A Shinkfield, U Polzin, 'Employer benefits and costs of employing a person with a disability', (2002) 17 Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation 251, p252.

    [33] Submission 95, Westpac, p3.

    [34] See for example, Submission 86, Ai Group, p8; Submission 49, Disability Council of NSW, p6; Submission 34, Manpower, p7.

    [37] See for example, Submission 86, Ai Group, p7; Submission 49, Disability Council of NSW, p7; Submission 50, Deafness Forum Australia, p7; Submission 114, ACROD, p6; Submission 75, Law Institute of Victoria, p4; Submission 118, EOCV, p7; Submission 34, Manpower, p6; Submission 52, Ability Technology, p5.

    [39] Job Accommodation Network http://www.jan.wvu.edu.

    [41] Job Accommodation Network, http://www.jan.wvu.edu/soar/index.html.

    [42] See Department of Employment and Workplace Relations, Portfolio Budget Statements 2005-06 Fact Sheets, Welfare to Work - Employer Demand Strategy at http://www.dewr.gov.au/publications/budget/2005/factSheets/factsheets.asp.

    [43] See for example, Submission 86, Ai Group, p2; Submission 111, Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland, p4; Submission 68, ACE National Network, p12.

    [44] Submission 32, Australian Association of the Deaf, p7.

    [45] Submission 54, SANE, p3; Submission 63, Confidential; Submission 62, Northern Sydney Mental Health Consumer Network, p5.

    [46] Submission 70, beyondblue, pp3-4.

    [47] Submission 83, blueVoices, p3.

    [49] See for example, Submission 32, Australian Association of the Deaf, p4; Submission 68, ACE National Network, p6; Submission 78, Physical Disability Council of Australia, p5.

    [50] Submission 95, Westpac, p4.

    [51] Submission 86, Ai Group, p2.

    [52] Submission 64, WCIG, p2.

    [56] Submission 48, The Network for Carers of People with a Mental Illness, p2; Submission 46, Centacare, p4.

    [57] Submission 54, SANE, p3; Submission 48, Network for Carers of People with a Mental Illness, pp2-3; Submission 46, Centacare, p4.

    [59] Job Accommodation Network, http://www.jan.wvu.edu/media/atoz.htm.

    [60] See for example, Submission 75, Law Institute of Victoria, pp3-4; Submission 34, Manpower, p6.

    [61] Submission 73, Regional Disability Liaison Officer and Disability Co-ordination Officer, pp22-23.

    [65] Submission 114, ACROD, p7. See also Submission 44, Australians for Diversity Employment, p3.

    [66] Submission 49, Disability Council of NSW, p4.

    [67] See J Graffam, K Smith, A Shinkfield, U Polzin, 'Employer benefits and costs of employing a person with a disability', (2002) 17 Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation 251, p257.

    [68] Submission 15, McCall (National Diversity Think Tank), p18.

    [69] Submission 118, EOCV, p2.

    [70] Submission 50, Deafness Forum Australia, p5.

    [71] Submission 118, EOCV, p2.

    [72] Submission 50, Deafness Forum Australia, p7.

    [73] Submission 65, IBM Australia & New Zealand, p3.

    [74] Submission 9, Gobert, p8,13.

    [75] See Submission 60, TAFE NSW, p2.

    [76] Submission 79, Australian Federation of Deaf Societies, p13.

    [77] J Graffam, K Smith, A Shinkfield, U Polzin, 'Employer benefits and costs of employing a person with a disability', (2002) 17 Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation 251, p252.

    [78] J Graffam, K Smith, A Shinkfield, U Polzin, 'Employer benefits and costs of employing a person with a disability', (2002) 17 Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation 251, p256.

    [79] Submission 10, Davies, p1.

    [80] Submission 30, Mental Illness Fellowship Victoria, p3; Submission 62, Northern Sydney Mental Health Consumer Network, p5; Submission 83, blueVoices, p4; Submission 99, City of Darebin Disability Working Party, Victoria, p6; Submission 105, Hanlon, p5.

    [81] Submission 62, Northern Sydney Mental Health Consumer Network, p5; Submission 105, p5.

    [82] Submission 64, WCIG, p1.

    [83] Submission 62, Northern Sydney Mental Health Consumer Network, p5.

    [85] Submission 85, NSW Disability Discrimination Legal Centre, pp45-46.

    [86] See, for example, Submission 79, Australian Federation of Deaf Societies, p14.

    [87] Submission 50, Deafness Forum Australia, p9. See also, Submission 100, Brotherhood of St Laurence, p9.

    [88] Submission 100, Brotherhood of St Laurence, p9.

    [89] Submission 52, Ability Technology, p3.

    [90] Submission 32, Australian Association of the Deaf, p7; Submission 49, Disability Council of NSW, p6.

    [91] Submission 100, Brotherhood of St Laurence, p5.

    [92] Submission 40, Australian Sign Language Interpreters Association Inc, p2; Submission 32, Australian Association of the Deaf, p7.

    [93] Submission 19, Australian Federation of Deaf Societies, p13.

    [94] Submission 25, Victorian Deaf Society, p3.

    [95] Submission 100, Brotherhood of St Laurence, p5; Submission 80, Blind Citizens Australia, p8.

    [96] Submission 77, RBS.RVIB.VAF Limited, p3.

    [97] Submission 92, Social Firms Australia, p4.

    [98] Submission 79, Australian Federation of Deaf Societies, pp15-17.

    [99] Submission 27, DEAC, p7.

    [100] Submission 85, NSW Disability Discrimination Legal Centre, p46.

    [101] FACS, Employer Incentives Strategy Review, 2003, p39.

    [102] Submission 100, Brotherhood of St Laurence, p4; Department of Family and Community Services, Improving Employment Opportunities for People with a Disability, Report of the Review of the Employer Incentives Strategy, March 2003 (FACS, Employer Incentives Strategy Review, 2003), pp18-19.

    [103] Australian Bureau of Statistics, Disability, Ageing and Carers: Summary of Findings, 2003, Cat No. 4430.

    [104] House of Representatives Standing Committee on Employment, Workplace Relations and Workplace Relations and Workforce Participation, Working for Australia's future: Increasing participation in the workforce, March 2005.

    [106] See Submission 59, Armstrong, p2; Submission 70, beyondblue, p4; Submission 75, Law Institute of Victoria, p4.

    [107] Submission 100, Brotherhood of St Laurence, p4.

    [108] J Graffam, K Smith, A Shinkfield, U Polzin, 'Employer benefits and costs of employing a person with a disability', (2002) 17 Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation 251, p257.

    [109] Submission 100, Brotherhood of St Laurence, p4.

    [110] Department of Family and Community Services, Supported Wages System Evaluation (2001). For a copy of the report see http://www.facs.gov.au/disability/ood/sws/index.htm.

    [111] FACS, Employer Incentives Strategy Review, 2003, p37.

    [112] Submission 85, NSW Disability Discrimination Legal Centre, p45. See also Submission 72, Scope Employment Services, p13.

    [113] Submission 72, Scope Employment Services, p13.

    [114] Submission 68, ACE National Network, p9.

    [115] Submission 41, Edge, p1.

    [116] Submission 85, NSW Disability Discrimination Legal Centre, p45. See also Submission 72, Scope Employment Services, p13.

    [117] Submission 68, ACE National Network, p9.

    [118] Submission 68, ACE National Network, p9.

    [119] Submission 68, ACE National Network, p9; Submission 100, Brotherhood of St Laurence, p9.

    [120] Submission 100, Brotherhood of St Laurence, p9

    [121] Submission 58, Centre of Full Employment and Equity, p16.

    [122] To be eligible, an employer must be in the private, community, Commonwealth, State or Local government sector; offer employment under a normal employer/employee relationship; be incorporated, if a community or charitable organisation; and employ the worker under a legal industrial agreement.

    [123] Department of Family and Community Services, Wage Subsidy Scheme Guidelines, November 2003, at http://www.facs.gov.au/internet/facsinternet.nsf/vIA/wage_subsidy_scheme/$File/WSS_Guidelines_Nov2003.pdf.

    [124] Submission 104, CRS Australia, p8.

    [125] FACS, Employer Incentives Strategy Review, 2003, p38.

    [126] FACS, Employer Incentives Strategy Review, 2003, p14.

    [127] Submission 85, NSW Disability Discrimination Legal Centre, p45.

    [128] Submission 72, Scope Employment Services, p12.

    [129] Submission 85, NSW Disability Discrimination Legal Centre, p45.

    [130] Submission 58, Centre of Full Employment and Equity, p16.

    [131] Submission 42, Villamanta Legal Service Inc, p7.

    [132] Submission 80, Blind Citizens Australia, p24.

    [133] Submission 51, Iscel, p5. See also Submission 55, Gilbert, p2.

    [134] Submission 85, NSW Disability Discrimination Legal Centre, p47.

    [135] Submission 103, Department of Education, Science and Training, p3.

    [136] Submission 103, Department of Education, Science and Training, p3.

    [137] Submission 85, NSW Disability Discrimination Legal Centre, p48. See also, Submission 46, Centacare, p5.

    [138] Submission 46, Centacare, p5.

    [139] Submission 60, TAFE NSW, p4.

    [140] Disability Works Australia, http://www.dwa.org.au/.

    [141] Submission 85, NSW Disability Discrimination Legal Centre, p47.

    [142] Submission 72, Scope Employment Services, p14.

    [143] Submission 85, NSW Disability Discrimination Legal Centre, p47.

    [144] Submission 72, Scope Employment Services, pp12, 17-18.

    [145] Submission 30, Mental Illness Fellowship of Australia, p6.

    [146] Submission 52, Ability Technology, p4.

    [147] Submission 49, Disability Council of NSW, p9.

    [148] See Submission 30, Mental Illness Fellowship Victoria, p6; Department of Consumer and Employment Protection, NSW, p10; Submission 68, ACE National Network, p7; Submission 73, National Regional Disability Liaison Officers and Disability Co-Ordination Officers Network, p26.

    [149] Submission 32, Australian Association of the Deaf, p8; Submission 118, EOCV, p5.

    [150] House of Representatives Standing Committee on Employment, Workplace Relations and Workforce Participation, Working for Australia's future: Increasing participation in the workforce, March 2005 (the Working for Australia Report), p78-79.

    [151] FACS, Employer Incentives Strategy Review, 2003, p14.

    [153] Submission 44, Australians for Diversity Employment, p1.

    [154] Submission 49, Disability Council of NSWW, p5.

    [155] Submission 30, Mental Illness Fellowship of Victoria, p6.

    [156] Submission 27, Disability Employment Action Centre, p2.

    [157] Submission 15, McCall (National Diversity Think Tank), p17. See also, Submission 34, Manpower, p7; Submission 41, Edge, p1.

    [158] J Graffam, K Smith, A Shinkfield, U Polzin, 'Employer benefits and costs of employing a person with a disability', (2002) 17 Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation 251; Submission 100, Brotherhood of St Laurence, p5.

    [159] See for example, Submission 68, ACE National Network, p5; Submission 73, Regional Disability Liaison Officer and Disability Co-ordination Officer, p20; Submission 77, RBS.RVIB.VAF Limited, p6; Submission 79, Australian Federation of Deaf Societies, p12; Submission 91, NAPWA, p11; Submission 100, Brotherhood of St Laurence, p4; Submission 60, TAFE NSW, p1.

    [160] Submission 100, Brotherhood of St Laurence, p4.

    [161] J Graffam, K Smith, A Shinkfield, U Polzin, 'Employer benefits and costs of employing a person with a disability', (2002) 17 Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation 251, p256.

    [162] Submission 49, Disability Council of NSW, p9.

    [163] See for example, Submission 60, TAFE NSW, p3; Submission 118, EOCV, p3; Submission 86, Ai Group, p6; Submission 85, NSW Disability Discrimination Legal Centre, p52.

    [164] See for example, Submission 15, McCall (National Diversity Think Tank), p17; Submission 85, NSW Disability Discrimination Legal Centre, p52; Submission 87, Welfare Rights Centre, Queensland, p11; Submission 100, Brotherhood of St Laurence, p4.

    [165] See for example, Submission 100, Brotherhood of St Laurence, p4; Submission 75, Law Institute of Victoria, p4; Submission 111, Queensland Anti Discrimination Commission, p2-3.

    [166] See for example, Submission 78, Physical Disability Council of Australia, p2; Submission 114, ACROD, p5.

    [167] FACS, Employer Incentives Strategy Review, 2003, p35

    [168] FACS, Employer Incentives Strategy Review, 2003, p35

    [169] FACS, Employer Incentives Strategy Review, 2003, Key Area for Action 6, p2.

    [170] See for example, Submission 73, National Regional Disability Liaison Officers and Disability Co-Ordination Officers Network, p16; Submission 80, Blind Citizens Australia, p10; Submission 100, Brotherhood of St Laurence, p9.

    [171] Submission 68, ACE National Network, p9. See also Submission 12, The Australian National Organisation of the Unemployed, p16.

    [172] Submission 52, Ability Technology, p4.

    [173] Submission 100, Brotherhood of St Laurence, p9.

    [174] Submission 90, Council for Equal Opportunity in Employment Limited, p2.

    [175] Submission 27, DEAC, p2.

    [176] Submission 15, McCall (National Diversity Think Tank), p18.

    [177] Submission 40, Australian Sign Language Interpreters Association Inc, p3.

    [178] Submission 52, Ability Technology, p19.

    [179] Submission 25, Victorian Deaf Society, p3; Submission 36, ACTCOSS, p15; Submission 38, ACT Commissioner for Public Administration, p1; Submission 52, Ability Technology, p1.

    [180] Submission 116, Director of Equal Opportunity in Public Employment NSW, p4.

    [181] Submission 80, Blind Citizens Australia, p32.

    [182] Submission 107, UnitingCare Australia, p3; Submission 44, Australians for Diversity Employment, pp3-4.

    [183] Submission 100, Brotherhood of St Laurence, p10.

    [184] Submission 27, DEAC, p16.

    [185] Submission 25, Victorian Deaf Society, p3.

    [186] Submission 46, Centacare, p5; Submission 58, Centre of Full Employment and Equity.

    [187] Submission 21, Disability Services Commission WA, p3. See also, Submission 38, ACT Commissioner for Public Administration.

    [188] Submission 44, Australians for Diversity Employment, p4; Submission 77, RBS.RVIB.VAF Limited, p5; Submission 80, Blind Citizens Australia, p8.