Local businesses are being urged to hire people with an intellectual disability – a move that would not only strengthen their businesses but also help lift many local people out of poverty.
The call comes as the world marked International Day of People with Disability on 3 December.
Our CEO, Catherine McAlpine, said many people with an intellectual disability often face huge barriers to getting good, quality jobs. For many the only option is Australian Disability Enterprises (ADEs) – also known as sheltered workshops – where some people are paid as little as $2.50 an hour.
“As a society, we often ignore the fact that too many people with an intellectual disability and their families are being forced into poverty because they can’t get access to a decent job with decent pay,” Ms McAlpine said. “With the right support, people with an intellectual disability can and do work, and in a time of significant staff shortages, they are an untapped supply of workers. As a community we have a responsibility to do what we can to get people with an intellectual disability into decent paid work and our local businesses can lead the charge.”
Ms McAlpine said that while the Australian Government has a responsibility to support people with an intellectual disability to find and keep work, and to break down the systemic barriers keeping people out of good quality, well paid jobs, local businesses have a role to play too.
“The time is right for a public conversation about the employment inequity facing people with an intellectual disability. Hiring people with an intellectual disability is a win for everyone – it’s good for business, good for the workers themselves, good for their families and good for the community as a whole.
“Most businesses have the ability to hire people with an intellectual disability. We need to stop making excuses and start finding ways.
Sonia Hume is a project officer at Inclusion Australia and a person with an intellectual disability. She has worked in ADEs in the past and knows the importance of clearing the path to allow people with an intellectual disability to get access to decent jobs on decent pay.
“Everyone, whether they have a disability or not, deserves to have the right to equal pay,” Ms Hume said.”
Listen to Catherine’s interview with Stephen Cenatiempo from 2CC talk radio in Canberra about employment on Monday 5 December here.