On the final hearing day, the RC considered broad policy frameworks on disability employment.The NDIA was asked about its Participant Employment Strategy, including whether it was influenced by article 27 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The witness responded the strategy appeared to complement the Convention, but she wasn't personally involved in the strategy's development. Counsel questioned the logic behind the employment target of 30 per cent of working-age participants, given the employment rate before the strategy was 24 per cent.The RC asked about a pillar of the strategy focused on building employer confidence, noting previous witnesses had expressed uncertainty in employing people with disability. The witness responded the Agency's focus to date had been on building participant capacity.A senior representative from the Department of Social Services answered questions on the National Disability Strategy (now called the Australian Disability Strategy) and National Disability Employment Strategy. Australian Government submissionsÂ relating to public hearing 9 appeared to suggest that many barriers identified were a matter for individual employers, Counsel asserted. The witness disagreed that this was the intent, but agreed that the governmentâs preferred approach was not regulating specific requirements for all employers.The witness was asked about Commonwealth work to address the âstubbornâ labour force participation rate of around 53 per cent of people with disability. DSS-commissioned research would inform the Australian Disability Strategy and the new National Disability Employment Strategy, each due to be released next Friday, he said.The Fair Work Ombudsman was questioned about her role, and how it interacts with the Australian Human Rights Commission and the Fair Work Commission. Since taking on the position, she said, she had more than doubled the percentage of matters dealt with via enforceable undertaking. This function avoids long and costly processes of litigation, and means the Ombudsman can scrutinise employers via audit for years following. Still, the witness noted that in 2021 only one of over 18,000 matters raised with her office involved disability discrimination. The majority of inquiries are referred on to the Australian Human Right Commission or Fair Work Commission, she said.The founder of the Disability Leadership Institute said leadership opportunities afforded to people with disability in employment were generally limited. Counsel noted previous witnesses had said that peopleâs reluctance to disclose disability makes things difficult; the witness characterised this as âan excuseâ, and said that when people are valued for their disability, they are likely to openly disclose it. Targeted disability leadership programs and disability-identified positions should be the norm, she said.Employment providers may wish to view the transcript of todayâs evidence when it becomes available on the RC website.A hearing for oral submissions regarding the hearing will be scheduled for 10 March 2022.
The next hearing on Preventing and responding to violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation in disability services begins 7 December.