The Australian Network on Disability has partnered with the Business Council of Australia (BCA) and the Department of Social Services with a disability employment program for people with disability.

The Career Pathways Pilot 2023-2025 will be run by Australian Network on Disability and BCA members Coles, Kmart & Target, Woolworths and the Compass Group.

Funding of $3.3 million will go into the pilot, with the Australian Network on Disability working to get the expertise on board, working with 80-line managers to ensure the recruitment, inclusion and mentoring processes are reviewed, Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth told F2L. “And the number of people this can translate to is significant.”   

The minister said there were two things unique about the concept, where previously the focus has been on getting people into employment but not career progression. “It is important to acknowledge it is not about getting a job but having a fulfilling, meaningful job, so people with disability have the same opportunities as people without disability. What we are hearing is that businesses are not confident about how to remove the barriers, ask the questions and have discussions. A large part of this project is about building confidence within organisations that employ and support people with disability, recognising that removing the barriers to career progression is not as difficult as they think it is. 

“One of the key things is having the BCA involved who will take this learning initiative to its 140-member organisations, and we will start to see significant progress when it comes to disability employment,” the minister said. 

Australian Network on Disability’s head of strategy Amber O’Shea said: “there is an over-representation of people with disability in entry level roles and a lack of career advancement opportunities for people with disability into leadership roles, as well as a lack of representation of people with disability on company boards.”

The pilot was co-designed and led by people with disability with a focus on career progression which challenges middle managers’ and senior leaders’ pre-existing biases and perceptions that people with disability are only suited to entry level roles, O’Shea said.

“Through the 18-month pilot we will work with some of Australia’s leading employers to create opportunities that recognise the depth of experience and skills of people with disability that have been overlooked in the past.”

BCA chief executive Bran Black said this initiative will lead to increased, sustainable, and measurable improvements in employment and career advancement outcomes for people with disability.

“We need a concerted effort to drive change from job design through to recruitment and progress from entry level jobs to advanced and executive roles,” he said. “If Australia moved into the top eight OECD countries for employing people with disability, we could see an additional $50 billion to Australia’s GDP by 2050.”

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Photo: Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth