As you may know, I don’t have a life. This is the reason I have time to read documents like A Stronger, Fairer Australia. Part of the Federal Government’s welcome push to keep Social Inclusion as a topic for discussion (although we’ll see how the budget treats our most disadvantaged citizens and judge by actions.
Here’s some highlights lifted without any permission from the text:
“The drivers of social exclusion are more likely to be found in some neighbourhoods or regions, leading to concentrated locational disadvantage. Recent research by Professor Tony Vinson found that the most disadvantaged three percent of localities across the country had at least twice the average share of unemployment, long-term unemployment, disability support and psychiatric admissions, criminal convictions, imprisonment and child maltreatment”.
Quite right, the poorest people are the most likely to suffer additional disadvantage and people with disability figure highly in every one of these reports and they have done so for more than the 20 odd years I have been involved – so what are we going to do about it?
Some tragic examples of a real failure to get to grips with the problem in a meaningful way:
“The rate of employment of people with disability and severe mental illness is still well below that of people without disability and mental illness, and, in recent years, their relative employment prospects have declined – from 1993 to 2003, the employment rate of people without disability increased by 13 per cent (from 67.6 per cent to 76.5 per cent), while the employment rate of people with disability (including psychological disability) increased only by 8 per cent (from 45.1 per cent to only 48.7 per cent)” and:
“Employment has significant benefits in terms of economic and social participation. For many people with disability or mental illness, it can improve opportunities for social inclusion. Yet the rate of employment of people with disability and mental illness is still well below that of people without disability and, in recent years, their relative employment prospects have declined:
in 2003, the labour force participation rate of people with disability aged 15 to 64 years was 53 per cent and the unemployment rate was 8.6 per cent, compared to 81 per cent and 5.0 per cent, respectively, for those without disability;91 and from 1993 to 2003, the employment rate of people without disability increased by 13 per cent (from 67.6 per cent to 76.5 per cent), while the employment rate of people with disability increased only by 8 per cent (from 45.1 per cent to only 48.7 per cent).
The number of Disability Support Pension recipients has risen by 31 per cent over the last 10 years to more than 750,000 people. The growth for men has been 13 per cent, consistent with the growth in the working population. The growth for women was much greater, 64 per cent, which can be mostly attributed to the closure of other payments. The average duration on income support for Disability Support Pension recipients is twelve years and fewer than 10 per cent of Disability Support Pension recipients report earnings from work. Of the 100,000 or so disability pensioners who reported earnings over the two years to the end of 2008, only 36,000 were employed for the whole two years.
Although many people with mental illness (psychological disability) do gain employment, they experience even higher rates of unemployment and lower rates of labour force participation than those with physical disability: in 2003, the labour force participation rate of people with mental illness aged 15 to 64 years was 28.2 per cent and the unemployment rate was 19.5 per cent, compared to 48.3 per cent and 7.4 per cent respectively for those with physical disability; 94 and psychological and psychiatric illness is the second largest category of disability for DSP recipients accounting for 28 per cent, which is approximately 214,000 people.
Many people with disability and mental illness want to work, but are not offered the opportunity. They may face barriers such as poorly coordinated support services or inadequate education and training opportunities. They may fear the loss of eligibility for crucial benefits. Some employers can also be unwilling to take on people with disability, reflecting outmoded community attitudes and beliefs about productivity and risk”.
In other words, government can see the problem, the problem is not seemingly responding to present activity and the number of people with disability worse off than their non-disabled peers either remains static or has worsened.
There are some interesting statistics on areas within NSW that require special care:
Priority Employment Regions:
New South Wales: Canterbury-Bankstown and South Western Sydney, Illawarra, Richmond-Tweed and Clarence Valley, Mid-North Coast, Sydney West and Blue Mountains, Central Coast-Hunter;
Remote Priority Areas:
New South Wales: Walgett and Wilcannia;
8 of the 11 areas listed as a priority have one thing in common – A NOVA outlet. I guess you could therefore form the opinion that a lack of progress is down to being saddled with us! However, you also might want to listen when we say that the employment prospects of people who have a disability and who genuinely want to work can be addressed through simple reform – either read back through this blog or contact us directly for more information on how employment opportunities for people with disability can be improved and cost to taxpayers lowered through simple cost effective initiatives to remove the artificial barriers created by the present processes.
Employment & Social inclusion are intimately linked - it makes sense to ensure that thfinding and keeping a job remains a top priority whatever the budget may bring.
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