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Employing people with disability in small business - what would make it easier?

COSBOA has completed research for the National Disability and Carers Advisory Council.  


Here is the report.

Here are five recommendations as listed below:

Recommendation 1:

That government develop and trial a new small-scale program aimed at supporting SME employers throughout the recruitment and employment process, including transition to work supports, workplace preparedness and on the job training/support. This could be trialed in targeted locations (metropolitan and regional) and supported through small business industry associations with direct links to SME employers.


Recommendation 2:

That the Job Access website—and other government materials aimed at communicating and promoting disability employment services, funding assistance and supportservice—be reviewed and updated to include material specifically relevant to small business, with a section targeted specifically at SMEs. Once these materials are revised and made fit-for-purpose, a national awareness campaign is run in collaboration with small business industry associations to promote the new resources and promote the benefits of creating more inclusive workplaces at an individual, business and community level.


Recommendation 3:

That the Department review all existing application and compliance processes available through JobAccess to streamline and make processes more efficient and manageable from a small business employer perspective. This may include an extension to the role of DES providers to assist employers with the application and compliance processes required to access and acquit these grants.


Recommendation 4:

That new information resources be developed, through codesign with small businesses, which ‘demystifies’ disability and that:·address the concerns of SMEs around the perceived additional legal and compliance issues associated with employing a person with a disability·provide clearer information about different disability types/categorisations and their impact on employment opportunities, as well as the benefits that different abilities can bring to the workplace·identify the potential modifications that may be required to accommodate different types of disability, and provide information about assistive technologies and other products available to make workplaces safe andaccessible for people of all abilities ·provide examples, through case studies, videos, podcasts and other social media formats, that promote the benefits of employing people with disability and address some of the perceived barriers/difficulties.


Recommendation 5:

That a national forum is convened of government representatives, disability consumer organisations, small business organisations and disability service organisations (including Disability Employment Services representatives) to identify a series of mutually beneficial new approaches and initiatives to overcome the identified barriers at the national and local level. This high-level forum could consider setting a national target and action plan to increase employment of people with disability over the next 10 years.


The objectives of the project were:

- to understand the experiences and challenges involved during the employment process for SMEs wanting to employ people with disability

- identify ways the government can reduce red tape to support this goal

- understand barriers for SMEs who are not currently employing people with disability and identify opportunities to provide greater support

- provide recommendations to the NDCAC on the above.


We are very keen to hear views from COSBOA members and other SMEs on these topics - whether you are currently employing someone with disability or not.


Currently unemployment amongst people with disability is more than double the rate of the rest of the Australian population.  We would like to understand better what the practical barriers are for small and medium businesses to employing people with disability, and what can be done to overcome those barriers.

The Council of Small Business Organisations Australia (COSBOA) is running a project that invites SME business owners and managers across Australia to take part in important research to understand what would make it easier for small businesses to employ people with disability.  This research project is a priority of the National Disability and Carers Advisory Council’s (NDCAC) Employment Reform Working Group (ERWG) and will provide valuable insights for future policies, programs and processes. This survey is completed.

All responses and feedback to this project are completely confidential and anonymous, and not personally identifiable.

We would like to thank you for your support with this project, and for encouraging your members to generously sharing their time, feedback and ideas throughout this engagement process.

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