Chief Minister Stanhope has proudly announced a new employment strategy to double the number of disabled employees of the ACT public service to 700.
The target would be achieved through training and mentoring programs and through the earmarking of dedicated jobs for employees with disabilities across the service.
Mr Stanhope said while 16 per cent of working-age Australians identified as having a disability they made up just 1.6 per cent of the total ACT public service workforce – a figure that was unacceptably low.
“People with disabilities can sometimes be overlooked by employers who are unable to recognise the great experiences that can result from welcoming them as co-workers, clients and customers,” Mr Stanhope said. “Through this strategy, the Government wants to challenge stereotypes and encourage a workplace where people see beyond a person’s disability, to focus instead on their abilities.
“It is also very much in the Government’s interests to employ a workforce that better represents the diversity of our community, because such a workforce is better placed to understand and respond to the community it serves.”
Readers will no doubt be thrilled to learn the strategy glories in the title of “Employment Strategy for People with Disability 2011-2015”.
The Greens’ Amanda Bresnan in turn is pleased but points out it was just September 2010 when Mr Stanhope rejected the need for targets.
The Greens received Liberal support to pass a motion calling for the establishing of targets in September 2010, a move the Chief Minister initially rejected.
“The falling employment rate of people with disabilities in the ACT Public Service over the last two decades has been shameful. People with disabilities make up around 17% of our community, but only 1.5% of our ACT Public Service,” Ms Bresnan said.
Both of them neglect the issue that many people reporting as disabled have moved over from long term unemployment as centrelink has tightened up, although we hasten to add that this is by no means universal