Release type: Media Release


Meeting the work needs of the blind and visually impaired


The Hon Kate Ellis MP
Minister for Child Care
Minister for Employment Participation

Minister for Employment Participation Kate Ellis today opened the Blind Citizens Australia National Convention in Adelaide.

The 15th of October is International White Cane Day, which recognises the importance of these worldwide aides in safe and independent mobility for people who are blind or visually impaired.

Ms Ellis said that International White Cane Day was key to raising awareness of the access needs of people who are blind or visually impaired.

“The Australian Government has a very strong commitment to ensuring people who are blind or vision-impaired have access to employment services that meet their needs,” Ms Ellis said.

“We introduced the new Disability Employment Services (DES) in March last year to provide more effective, tailored assistance for job seekers with disability.”

“This included the historic move to uncap services, giving all eligible people immediate access to services without spending time on a waiting list.”

“As a result, we’ve seen a 41 per cent increase in the number of job seekers accessing assistance compared with the previous system, which includes more than 3000 blind or vision impaired job seekers.”

More than 500 blind or vision impaired job seekers have achieved sustainable employment since the start of the DES program.

The 2011-12 Budget demonstrated the Government’s commitment to continued growth and improvement for DES.

The Australian Government has invested $3 billion over four years, along with other initiatives, under the Building Australia’s Future Workforce package.

“To encourage more employers to provide opportunities for job seekers with disability, the Government is offering extra financial assistance,” Ms Ellis said.

“This includes wage subsidies for the very long-term unemployed and higher wage subsidies for employers who hire people with disability for at least 15 hours per week.

“People with disability and their employers deserve access to the best possible employment opportunities and services and our Government is working hard to meet those needs.