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Monday, 21 November 2011
Page: 8982

Senator McLUCAS (QueenslandParliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers) (13:40): Our government is focused on ensuring that every person who has the ability is supported into employment, whether or not they have a disability and whether or not they are living in a regional or remote area. That has been the hallmark of this government. We are working hard with the community to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to be employed. There are a number of people who, because of their disability, cannot have the benefits of employment. We will make sure that they get the support that they need. But our focus has been on ensuring that everyone has the chance to share in the wealth of this nation. Ensuring that the support structures are put in place so that people can access employment has been the focus of the government.

You make some points about regional and rural areas. You are right. People with disability often move to areas where it is cheaper to live. We have to make sure that we support those people to get into the employment that they in many cases would love and want to have. We have to make sure that people with mental illness have support so that they are able to work through episodic conditions. This set of impairment tables addresses that question.

This amendment bill, particularly schedule 3—the impairment tables—will provide a lot of support to people and enable them to think about getting employed rather than believing that, because of their disability, they are not part of the employment market. We have to change the mindset in some sectors to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to be employed if they have the ability to be so. This is part of a suite of measures that will focus on employing people. We know the benefits of employment. They are not just monetary. People who engage in employment are included in society; they are part of society. They do not feel socially isolated. We know that the benefits of employment are much broader than a pay packet at the end of the week. I see positive moves in this and other pieces of legislation that have focused on employment rather than classifying people as not having the potential and possibility of having a job.