NSW Labor policy: Graeme Innes to head new disability employment advocacy body


Originally published: The Sydney Morning Herald

By Rachel Browne

Former disability discrimination commissioner Graeme Innes would head a new employment advocacy body to encourage more companies to hire people with disabilities under a policy to be announced by NSW Labor on Tuesday.

Labor leader Luke Foley will unveil his party's disability policy at the National Disability Services conference, following an address from NSW Premier Mike Baird on Monday.

Under the Labor plan, a new bipartisan panel for disability employment with a $10 million budget over four years would be established to devise ways to increase workforce participation for people with disabilities.


It would be co-convened by Mr Innes and Cain Beckett, chairman of the Disability Council NSW and a director of PricewaterhouseCoopers Australia.

The panel would include academics and business leaders in hiring people with disabilities and would report to both sides of government.

Australia has one of the lowest rates of workforce participation for people with disabilities among OCED countries with Australian Bureau of Statistics figures showing only half of them are working.

A key aim of the National Disability Insurance Scheme is to lift workforce participation to offset the cost of the $22 billion program.

Mr Innes said the current system to increase participation was broken and both state and federal governments needed to set targets for employers.

"Employment is a game changer for people with a disability," he said.

"We know they are 30 per cent less employed than people without a disability. If only one third of that group could be moved from welfare and into jobs, the NDIS would be running at a profit within a decade."

Mr Foley said a Labor government would establish a Minister for Disability Inclusion in Cabinet, who would oversee improving quality of life for people with disabilities.

He promised ongoing funding for state based disability advocacy groups and a reinstatement of TAFE support services for people with a disability, cut under the Government's Smart and Skilled reforms.

A parliamentary inquiry into preventing abuse and neglect of people with disabilities would also be held under a Labor government, Mr Foley said.

The Coalition is also supporting a boost for workforce participation among people with disabilities, already announcing a $6 million program aimed at encouraging businesses to employ people with disability.

Originally published as: NSW Labor policy: Graeme Innes to head new disability employment advocacy body