Government support for the disability workforce: A step in the right direction


Vision 2020 Australia applauds the Australian Government’s strengthening of Disability Employment Services (DES).

The Assistant Minister for Social Services and Disability Services, The Hon Jane Prentice MP, shed light on the $24 million in funding for DES announced in the 2017-18 Federal Budget.

From 1 July 2018 DES participants will be able to choose their provider and change providers more easily if they are not satisfied with the support they are receiving.

Provider funding will also depend on how successful providers are in placing people in jobs, with higher levels of funding for placing people with greater barriers to employment.

Carla Northam, Vision 2020 Australia CEO, says: ‘We hope these measures will offer people with disability more choice and control in the services they receive, and ultimately improve their opportunities to secure employment.

‘The current employment rate of Australians with disability is just 53.4 per cent, compared to 83.5 per cent of the general population. People who are blind or vision impaired are at an even greater disadvantage, with an estimated 58 per cent unemployment rate.

‘These statistics are unacceptable. Access to meaningful employment free from discrimination is a fundamental right of all Australians, and we commend the Government for taking leadership with this important first step.

‘There are also further opportunities to achieve greater outcomes for people with disability in the workforce, including people who are blind and vision impaired.’

Vision 2020 Australia calls on the Government to set a target of seven per cent employment of people with disability in the Australian public service by 2021.

Ms Northam says: ‘People with disability have a range of skills, capabilities and interests to bring to the workforce. Supporting workplace diversity and increasing the representation of people with disability improves effectiveness and productivity.

‘By adopting a seven per cent target, the Australian Government can demonstrate to private sector employers the value of employing people with disability.

‘A tangible commitment from the Australian Government will also help diminish the negative assumptions and pervasive stereotypes surrounding people with disability in the workplace.’


For more information: Adam Sawell at Vision 2020 Australia

03 9656 2020, 0401 096 507 or

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).