Australia strengthens employment sector for PWDs
The Australian government has allocated an additional A$57 million (US$37.9 million) to strengthen the supported employment sector, or Australian Disability Enterprises (ADEs), which support paid employment for people with disabilities (PWDs). This investment aims to enhance opportunities for individuals with disabilities to contribute to their local communities through employment.
Emphasising the government’s commitment to improving the supported employment sector, Amanda Rishworth, Australia’s Minister for Families and Social Services, said, “Over the next four years, this funding will increase the capability of the sector to provide people with disability with high support needs access to a wider range of employment opportunities with appropriately targeted supports.”
The funding package includes several components to uplift the supported employment sector. A grants programme will receive A$35 million (US$23.3 million) to support ADEs and social enterprises in upskilling supported employees, building support workforce capacity, and implementing innovative business models.
An additional A$6 million (US$4 million) will be allocated for evaluations of initiatives, trials, job expos, and consultation on disability business procurement; and A$11.7 million (US$7.8 million) will establish a disability employment advocacy and information programme for supported employees, families, and carers.
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To address abuse and neglect issues, A$3.2 million (US$2.1 million) will extend the National Disability Abuse and Neglect Hotline and the Complaints Resolution and Referral Service, enhancing reporting and resolution of related cases. Lastly, A$1.1 million (US$731,150) will be dedicated to consulting and designing the Disability Employment Centre of Excellence.
With more than one in six Australians, totalling 4.4 million individuals, having a disability, these initiatives hold significance, as Rishworth concluded, “Australia’s Disability Strategy 2021-2031 unites us in a coordinated effort over the next 10 years to ensure that PWD can participate as equal members of the community.”