Statistics getting worse for disabled workers

In the last twenty years, the statistics for the employment of people with a disability has not improved – in fact it’s gotten worse.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) collated data which shows that in 2012, 53 per cent of people with a disability were in the workforce, compared to 83 per cent of people without a disability.

This contrasts with the same data collected in 1993, which found 55 per cent of people with a disability were employed, alongside 77 per cent of those without a disability.

“In the last 20 years, there has been very little change in labour force participation by people with a disability, and there remains a large gap compared with people without a disability,” Head of Health and Disability Branch at the ABS, Michelle Marquardt, said.

However the news isn’t all doom and gloom. Positively, there has also been an increase in participation in social activities, with disabled people more likely than ever to visit family and friends, dine out, and play sport.

Nearly one in five Australians currently report having a disability. As it stands, the highest rates of disability are found in Tasmania and South Australia (reflecting the their older populations), while the Northern Territory, ACT and Western Australia have the lowest.

Marquardt added there are significant gaps in every state and territory for labour force participation, educational attainment and household income, when the circumstances of people with a disability are compared to those without.

“More than 1.1 million people with disability aged 5 years or more indicate that they do not leave home as often as they would like, with nearly half stating the main reason was their own disability or condition,” Marquardt said.

Compared to other OECD nations, Australia is performing at the bottom end of workforce participation of the disabled people. Notably the statistics are significantly better in New Zealand, where workforce participation exceeds 64 per cent.

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