I watched Insight on SBS last night – all about employment for people with disability.
Congratulations to SBS for setting up an opportunity to open the debate.
And that said;
The underlying problem of systemic barriers wasn’t touched and there seemed to be a misunderstanding about where people with disability are positioned in relation to supply and demand: It is employers who are on the demand side – they demand labour – people with disability are on the supply side, part of the pool of resources drawn on by employers.
If that sum is not understood and people with disability are represented as 'demand' with employers as 'supply' I think a misunderstanding is created about where the real power lies and that’s a mistake.
Stimulating demand from employers opens up opportunities on the supply side - unemployed people with disability..
Stimulating demand from people with disability may not help at all – there are plenty of candidates (feel free to correct me).
What would have been truly helpful would have been more examples of people with disability presently working (not ‘I used to have a bloke, but not now’) and most importantly, more satisfied employers – these are the levers for change;
That's how to stimulate demand - you don't portray people with disability as deserving of charity, don't portray them as angry at being excluded.
You stimulate demand by showcasing the achievement and positive results from such workers.
Check this short film: http://www.focusonability.com/FOA/films/Jamess_Story_680.html
See how the employers stops noticing James’s disability?
That’s what happens – seen it hundreds of times.
Don’t show people who simply can’t work (feel for them, but not the point here), don’t show people who are work resistant, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with mowing lawns and being in work is a much stronger base from which to seek better work.
Trust me, in the eyes of employers; mowing lawns, cleaning loos and voluntary work all trump being home watching soapies.
Show success in employment - there are heaps of great examples
Finally, don’t praise disability employment services when there are still so many systematic barriers to genuine participation and loopholes in the system are systematically exploited to adjust 'results' – Insight did not point out minimum hour roles get the same credit as full time work, distorting the labour market and effectively excluding people with disability.
That said, well done SBS for keeping the issue alive
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