Release type: Media Release


New strategy to get people with disability or mental illness into work

Joint Media Release with The Hon Bill Shorten MP, Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Children’s Services

A new Rudd Government strategy will look at ways to help people with a disability or mental illness to find or retain employment.

The Minister for Employment Participation, Brendan O’Connor MP and the Parliamentary Secretary for Disability and Children’s Services, Bill Shorten MP, will jointly oversee a National Mental Health and Disability Employment Strategy.

Mr O’Connor and Mr Shorten announced the development of a strategy at the Mental Health Council of Australia’s Reforming Welfare to Work forum at Parliament House today.

Today’s announcement is part of the Rudd Government’s National Disability Strategy and will be developed in close consultation with people with disability, employers, disability employment service and training providers.

Mr O’Connor said the strategy would help to identify why people with a disability and mental illness find participation difficult and put in place strategies to address these challenges.

“The strategy will look at ways to create direct links between employers and people with disability and mental illness while exploring innovative ways to support people to find and retain work.

“Boosting employment participation is a key strategy in the Government’s five point plant to curb inflation, a legacy of the former Liberal Government.

“The Rudd Government believes that everyone that can work should work and those who are unable should be supported.

“But the former Liberal Government neglected those who face the greatest barriers to employment and did little to adjust employment programs to suit a changing workforce landscape.

“The Welfare to Work changes targeted people receiving a Disability Support Pension yet just 12 per cent of the 705,000 recipients have been successful in gaining work when surveyed last year.”

Mr Shorten said the strategy would take a national approach to tackling participation challenges for people with disability.

“People with disability have an enormous amount to contribute and it is very important that we tap into this tremendous resource in a supportive and fair manner,” Mr Shorten said. “We need to engage with business to find more jobs for people with a disability.”

“The strategy will provide clear and practical steps that the Rudd Government can put in place to overcome barriers that make it harder for people with disability and mental illness to gain and keep work.

“The previous Liberal Government failed to provide programs and policies to help people with a disability or mental illness.”

Consultations will begin in April and be held in capital cities of each state and territory with the strategy to be released by the end of the year.