Disability Royal Commission to examine pathways and barriers to people with disability finding employment

Pathways and barriers to open employment for people with disability will be the subject of the ninth public hearing of the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability to be held in Sydney.

It will be the first public hearing of the Royal Commission concerning economic participation of people with disability.

Chair of the Royal Commission, Ronald Sackville AO QC, said people with disability have a right to self-determination and independence, and gainful employment is an important pathway towards them achieving a secure future and autonomy within society.

“People with disability must be allowed the freedoms and rights to make decisions about their future, and finding open employment is one way that allows them to achieve these goals,” Mr Sackville said ahead of the hearing to be held from December 7-11, 2020.

“The Royal Commission will examine the importance of community attitudes and how those attitudes can operate as a barrier, or a pathway, to employment that hinder people with disability from finding their proper place in society.”

The Royal Commission expects to hear from people with disability about their experiences – both positive and negative – in seeking open employment, as well as from advocacy groups, employers, government agencies and other interested groups.

The hearing’s Scope and Purpose includes examining a range of issues, including:

  • the human right of persons with disability to work without discrimination and on an equal basis with others
  • the systemic barriers to people with disability attaining meaningful employment, including attitudinal, physical/environmental, organisation and structural barriers
  • links between meaningful and sustainable employment and inclusion of people with disability into broader society
  • employment programs and how different systems such as the Disability Support Pension, the National Disability Insurance Scheme and Disability Employment Services interact
  • how employers can build inclusive workplaces to promote employment opportunities and career advancement for persons with disability in the labour market.

“We are hopeful the hearing will assist in creating greater awareness within society of the barriers faced by people with disability, and we are keen to engage with them and others to ascertain a true picture so as to guide our final report and any recommendations we make,” Mr Sackville said.

The Royal Commission intends to further consider segregated employment settings in later hearings.

Mr Sackville will preside over the hearing alongside Commissioner Roslyn Atkinson AO in Brisbane, Commissioner Rhonda Galbally PSM in Melbourne and Commissioner John Ryan AM in Sydney.

Senior Counsel Assisting leading the inquiry will be Ms Kate Eastman SC.

The Disability Royal Commission was established in April 2019 in response to community concern about widespread reports of violence against, and the neglect, abuse and exploitation of, people with disability.

The hearing will be closed to the public, but will be live-streamed on the Royal Commission website.

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