Sam Connor is the President of People With Disability Australia (PWDA). Her organisation is committed to building pathways and opportunities for people with disabilities to participate fully in the workforce and the wider community.
With the Federal Government recently touting a big investment into the NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) to the tune of $13.2 billion, Connor says there isn’t a lot known about where the money is headed.
“The reality is we don’t know a great deal about it … there was an announcement about using a digital platform … but we haven’t seen anybody have discussions with disabled people about what their engagement would be like with digital platforms, or whether they’d be able to at all.”
The need for funding however doesn’t override the fact that disabled people are still struggling to find work, so getting them back into work is more important than ever. However, in a workforce that was suddenly flooded with unemployed people throughout the pandemic, that suddenly made it incredibly hard.
“Well, I think the outstanding fact is that so many other people are actually unemployed at the moment – so many people have lost their jobs during the pandemic.
“When you’ve got an endless list of candidates who might appear to employers to be better candidates, then people with disabilities don’t really get a look in,” Connor said.
One of the unintended consequences of the pandemic was the boom in work from home, which actually helps people with disabilities, and could lead to a higher employment rate for the disabled.
“For some people who are already in the workforce, it’s actually been a bit of a blessing, because we’ve been lobbying for years and years and years to get working from home arrangements.
“If your support worker doesn’t turn up and can’t help you get to work, you have the ability to work from home and that flexibility is a good thing. So a lot of people have given us feedback that the pandemic has been really good in that regard.”
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