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Disability employment will boost the economy

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Creating access to meaningful employment for people with disability, including people who are blind or vision impaired, will give a significant boost to Australia’s economy.

It is estimated that if an additional 100,000 people with disability were employed by 2050, it would add one per cent to Australia’s gross domestic product.

Yet people with disability remain significantly underrepresented in the workforce, demonstrating a wasted economic opportunity and a failure of Australia to ensure equal rights and inclusion for all.

Carla Northam, CEO of Vision 2020 Australia, says: ‘Currently the workforce participation rate for working-aged Australians with disability is just 53.4 per cent, compared to 83.5 per cent of the general population.

‘With nearly one in seven working-aged Australians living with disability, the workforce participation statistic is unacceptable.

‘Access to meaningful employment free from discrimination is a fundamental human right and is vital to building a prosperous society.’

John Simpson, Chair of Vision 2020 Australia’s Independence and Participation Committee and President of Blind Citizens Australia, says the employment statistics for people who are blind or vision impaired are poorer still.

‘It’s estimated that 58 per cent of working-aged Australians who are blind or vision impaired are unemployed,’ Mr Simpson said.

‘One-third of those who are employed would like to work more hours, highlighting the issue of underemployment.

‘What’s more, one in four people who are blind or vision impaired report experiencing discrimination regarding their employment.’

In the lead up to the 2017-18 Federal Budget, Ms Northam says: ‘Vision 2020 Australia is calling on the Australian Government to set a target of seven per cent employment of people with disability in the Australian public service by 2021.’

‘The Australian public service is a major employer across the country, yet its employment of people with disability has consistently declined1.

‘We implore the Government to lead by example and demonstrate the value that people with disability, including those who are blind or vision impaired, bring to Australian workplaces and to Australia’s economy.’

See our full 2017-18 Federal Budget analysis

ENDS

For more information: Adam Sawell at Vision 2020 Australia

03 9656 2020, 0401 096 507 or asawell@vision2020australia.org.au

About Vision 2020 Australia

As the national peak body for the eye health and vision care sector, Vision 2020 Australia represents over 50 member organisations involved in: local and global eye care; health promotion; low vision support; vision rehabilitation; eye research; professional assistance; and community support. Established in October 2000, Vision 2020 Australia is part of VISION 2020: The Right to Sight, a global initiative of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB).

1.Vision 2020 Australia, Position statement on meaningful employment for people with disability in the Australian public service: http://www.vision2020australia.org.au/resources/position-statement-on-meaningful-employment-for-people-with-disability-in-the-australian-public-service

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