The second annual report for Australia’s Disability Strategy 2021–2031 Outcomes Framework has been released, providing an overview of the progress being made for people with disability.

And the rate of Vocational Education and Training (VET) graduates with disability who gain employment on completion of training has increased from 51.5 per cent to 62.3 per cent. People with hearing difficulties or who are deaf make up the biggest group of VET graduates employed on completion of training. One in 25 VET students aged 15-64 had disability in 2022 and 7.6 per cent of all Fee-Free TAFE students are people with disability, with NSW educating the most students.

A community attitudes measure was conducted by the Australian National University from September 22 to January 2023. The data showed that 77 per cent of employer responses were positive about the value and benefits of employing people with disability, but only 19 per cent of people with disability felt represented in leadership roles. However, 79 per cent of personal and community support workers were positive about being disability confident and responding positively to people with disability.

Employment is one of the key priorities of the strategy as working-age people with disability are twice as likely to be unemployed as those without disability, and more likely to be unemployed for longer.

While the unemployment rate for people with disability has remained stubbornly high for decades, the data shows it could be starting to shift, Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth said. 

“Increasing the numbers of people with disability with jobs is good for everyone. For the person with disability, it brings greater independence, financial security, better health and wellbeing and improved quality of life. Then there are the benefits for the broader society and economy with increased gross domestic product, reduced overall welfare expenditure and increased self-reliance in retirement,” she said.

What is going well?  More people with disability are getting a job after finishing a VET course and more NDIS participants felt the NDIS helps them to have more choice and control.

What has not changed? There was no change in how many people with disability are working in the Australian Government or how many NDIS participants felt they could speak up for themselves. And there was no real change in how many children with disability took part in a preschool program.