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Successful first Meeting Of Employer Roundtable for people with disabilities.



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THE HON KEVIN ANDREWS MP

MINISTER FOR EMPLOYMENT AND WORKPLACE RELATIONS MINISTER ASSISTING THE PRIME MINISTER FOR THE PUBLIC SERVICE

Media Release

14405

Successful First Meeting Of Employer Roundtable For People With Disabilities

The Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Kevin Andrews said today’s initial meeting of a new Employer Roundtable for People with Disabilities has been very successful.

The Roundtable was held in Melbourne this morning and was chaired by Mark Bagshaw, Manager of IBM Australia/New Zealand Accessibility Centre.

Mr Andrews said the Howard Government understands that many people with disabilities want to work and is keen to find ways to improve opportunities for them to make the most of their abilities.

"The Employer Roundtable for People with Disabilities has an important role to play as preliminary results from recent research by my Department indicate that of businesses who recruited staff in the last 12 months, only 22% currently employ at least one employee with a disability" Mr Andrews said.

"While attitudes are certainly changing, there is more to be done to encourage, support and assist people with disabilities into the workforce."

"The people who took place in the Roundtable today impressed me with their enthusiasm and commitment to encourage more businesses to employ people with a disability."

Mr Andrews said the examples given at today’s meeting of how well people with a disability fit into the workforce should be an example to everyone in the community to help in promoting work opportunities.

The Roundtable agreed to complete an Employer Demand Action Plan by October 2005.

STATEMENT BY EMPLOYER ROUNDTABLE FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES

Australian Business welcomes the Australian Government’s focus on developing a detailed Employer Demand Action Plan over a very short period - the Action Plan is to be delivered to Minister Andrews by October this year.

Discussions today found common agreement on the key issues which need to be addressed, from an employers point of view, in increasing employment of people with disabilities.

It is recognised that a range of businesses and industry organisations are already involved but much more needs to be done. One key area of work that was identified by the Roundtable was the need to dispel the many myths around the employment of people with disabilities. The Australian Industry Group commented that:

"A key aim of the Roundtable will be to promote to businesses that are not yet engaged in this issue the benefits of employing people with a disability. These include improved staff morale and better alignment of our workforces with the diversity of our customer base."

Similarly Westpac is of the opinion that "We can better service customers and their needs if we are reflective of the community - it just makes good business sense."

Other key themes to emerge were:

● The need for an awareness campaign focused on business

● Recognition that there is a talented pool of skilled people wanting to work

The Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia, stated that:

"This is a great opportunity for small business to tap into the underutilised pool of skilled personnel. Business just have to be told about it!"

Organisations Represented on the Roundtable

Angus Clyne Australia

Australian Public Service Commission

Australian Industry Group

Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Australian Department of Employment and Workplace Relations

Business Council of Australia

City of Boroondara

Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia

Diversity at Work

Elynwood PTY Ltd

Employers Making a Difference

IBM

McDonalds

Sara Lee Household & Body Care

Subway Franchisee

Telstra

The National Diversity Think Tank

Toyota Australia

Westpac

Woolworths

For further information contact:

Russ Street 0417 044 712

13/05/2005