Our responsibility to work harder for people with disability

Maddy a job seeker at an APM desk

APM is one of the world’s largest human services organisations.

We are all about enabling better lives in the sectors of disability, employment, health, justice, ageing, early childhood, youth, and training.

In the last year, our global team across 10 countries has supported 1 million people to improve their lives.

International Day of People with Disability on Thursday December 3 is a timely reminder that in our communities disability is more common than we might think.

It is also a reminder that disability affects every one of us in some way or another – either as family members, carers, schoolmates, sports teammates or colleagues.

This year more than any, the Day shines a light on an important cohort of people who have tremendous value to offer the community, employers and the economy.

Around 15% of the world’s population lives with disability.

Perceptions of disability abound – perhaps the most common being that someone with a disability has a wheelchair. In fact, only around 5% of people with a disability use a wheelchair.

Job seekers supported by APM

Not all disabilities are visible

For many people, their disability is invisible, with almost one-quarter having a mental health or behavioural disorder as their main condition.

Some of these perceptions have created gaps in community and workplace participation for people living with disability, as well as for education.

As a community, we have a responsibility to work harder to close these gaps in education, workforce participation and social engagement.

‘Not all Disabilities are Visible’ is this year’s United Nations’ theme for International Day of People with Disability, raising awareness and understanding of “disabilities that are not immediately apparent, such as mental illness, chronic pain or fatigue, sight or hearing impairments, diabetes, brain injuries, neurological disorders, learning differences and cognitive dysfunctions, among others."

This theme is both timely and relevant, given almost four in five employers say they are likely to hire someone with a physical disability, but one-third of employers have said they are unlikely to hire someone with a mental health condition, with even more saying they are unlikely to hire someone with an intellectual or psychosocial disability.

In Australia, APM is the leading Disability Employment Services provider, working with both the private sector and governments.

In the last 12 months, we have worked with more than 6,600 employers to place more than 10,000 people with disability into Australian workplaces.

In our 27 year history, we have assisted more than one million Australians with injury, illness or disability and continue to do so through our many programs, including NDIS Local Area Coordination services.

APM's Disability Diversity & Inclusion Index brochure

Promoting and acting on diversity and inclusion

Today we launch our 2021 Disability Diversity and Inclusivity Index of Australian workplaces, ground-breaking research that ranks employers’ collective performance on disability inclusion.

While 97% of businesses see significant benefits in employing people with disability, only one-quarter (25.7%) have the confidence or the internal capability to do so.

At APM, we know that employers have a lot of support available, whether that be accessing government-funded wage subsidies and workplace modifications for eligible job seekers, or training members of a workforce to better understand their own health and the health needs of people with disability.

You can access the full report here.

APM remains dedicated to supporting people with disability through all our services globally each and every day of every year.

International Day of People with Disability falls but once each year.

Yet, for the 15% of people around the world who are living with disability and their carers, every day gives us moments to recognise the challenges and to celebrate the achievements of people living their life with disability.

Michael Anghie