Innovative Policy 2013 on Employment
Australia’s one-stop-shop employment services
|Beneficiaries targeted||Employers and employees with disabilities|
|Responsible body||Australian Government, administered by the WorkFocus Group|
|Stakeholders||Public and private sector|
IN BRIEF The Australian JobAccess Programme of 2006 complements non-discrimination legislation and addresses the lack of easily accessible and comprehensive information regarding government assistance for employers and employees with disabilities. It facilitates the removal of workplace barriers through technical advice and adaptation grants, while it offers to disabled people the means and support to find or retain a job through vacancy directories and advice. Being highly replicable, JobAccess won a UN Public Service Award in 2008 and is promoted by the Global Applied Disability Research and Information Network on Employment and Training.
The Australian JobAccess Programme of 2006 complements non-discrimination legislation and addresses the lack of easily accessible and comprehensive information regarding government assistance for employers and employees with disabilities. It facilitates the removal of workplace barriers through technical advice and adaptation grants, while it offers to disabled people the means and support to find or retain a job through vacancy directories and advice. Being highly replicable, JobAccess won a UN Public Service Award in 2008 and is promoted by the Global Applied Disability Research and Information Network on Employment and Training.
Social model of disability
By providing very practical assistance and incentivizing employers, JobAccess focuses on abilities and combats prejudice about workplace modification.
Not only environmental adaptations, but also communication devices, sign language and mental health supports are provided, so that barriers are eliminated in all stages of the employment journey.
Continuous consultation with all stakeholders ensures the ongoing improvement of the programme and tailors it to the needs of the target audience.
Reducing bureaucratic burdens
Whereas, previously, it took three paper-based forms and about 11 days, applications for assistance for less than AUS$10,000 are now answered within four hours (others within two days).
As people with disabilities continued to find it difficult to maintain employment, the Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission undertook a study in 2005 which identified three major obstacles: lack of easily accessible and comprehensive information, cost concerns of employers and risks related to disability affecting employment. The main lesson learnt from the programme’s not very successful forerunner is the importance of reducing bureaucratic burdens. After consultations with DPOs, the employment service industry, the private sector and the government, as well as the US Department of Labor (who funds the Job Accommodations Network), the JobAccess Programme was launched in 2006 by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. It responds to practical issues faced by employees and employers at the workplace, aiming to increase workforce participation for those with an ability to work and including better supports for employers considering employing people with disability. In 2008, JobAccess was winner of a UN Public Service Award, which highlighted that it has greatly encouraged access to employer incentives. In consultation with all stakeholders, the programme is continuously improved and tailored to the needs of the target audience.
«JobAccess has been successfully removing workplace barriers for thousands of people, however, further improvement is needed to have an authentic impact on disabled people’s unemployment rate.»
The JobAccess Programme of 2006 provides a one-stop-shop for all matters related to the employment of people with disability. It helps job seekers and employees with disabilities who are about to start a job, are currently working and who need assistance in search and preparation for work, to enter and remain in employment, and it provides expert advice services to employers, service providers and co-workers. Administered by the WorkFocus Group, the programme delivers information via phone and website (www.jobaccess.gov.au), and coordinates adjustments in the workplace. The user-friendly website of 700 pages of content provides information on the full range of employment services available, along with step-by-step guides for recruitment and job search. It contains an online database of workplace adjustments and solutions (another 1,000 pages of content), information on rights and responsibilities, as well as statistics and case studies. JobAccess users can receive free confidential advice and gain access to services, such as the Employment Assistance Fund, which provides a free workplace assessment and financial support. Assistance can be requested by employers, employment service providers and people with disabilities.
So far, it appears not to have decreased unemployment rates. Reimbursement can pose inappropriate financial burdens on small employers. People with psychosocial disabilities need a more targeted approach.
Nominated by: Ms. Chirstine WALTON, Australian Disability & Development Consortium