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  • Writer's pictureSocial Scaffolding

Together, Let’s Change the Narrative on Employing People with Disability


On Wednesday 26 January 2022, Dylan Alcott became this year’s Australian of the Year and broke history as the first person with a physical disability to be awarded this honour. This is a moment in Australia’s history that I will never forget. Laying the truth out in the open about not only his struggles growing up grappling with his disability but the struggles of people with disability on an everyday basis was raw and honest.

The facts don’t lie – what we know is that in Australia about 54% of people with disability are engaged in employment (compared to 83% of people without disability), and that this has not changed in 30 years. When you also consider that Australia is 35th of the list of OECD countries in employing people with disabilities it becomes even more staggering.

People with disability not only want to work but are ready to be engaged in work that that will utilise their skills, talents, and abilities. In our discussions with employers, they have told that it is more costly to hire a person with disability than someone without. So, let’s break this down a little.

Some people with disability may need specific arrangements from their employer to work. However, most or around 88%[1] do not require any specific arrangements to be put into place. Okay, but what about the cost for those that do and what kinds of arrangements might be requested. On average it may cost around $500 to make some adjustments, some of which may also benefit other employees in the organisation. The kinds of requests may include working part-time, specific leave arrangements, special equipment, a support person to assist or train them on the job, or to be allocated different duties.

At Social Scaffolding we help to break down some of the misconceptions that are out there about employing people with disability. We believe in the importance of working with you to help build your knowledge and confidence in hiring and then working with people with disability. We understand that all of us hold unconscious biases, even when we don’t mean to. The important thing is to unpack and recognise what they might be, so that we can make better decisions. For your organisation this could result in the cultivation of diverse talent in your workforce, developing an engaged workforce, leveraging unique experiences and perspectives and sparking innovation.

We would love to talk with you about your organisation and how our team, of people with and without disability, could work alongside you to break down misconceptions, and increase your knowledge and confidence in hiring some of Australia’s most talented workers – people with disability.

If you would like to know more please contact us.

[1] AIHW, People with disability in Australia, October 2020


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