ABS discrimination damning - UnionsWA

ABS data: discrimination damning

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People with Disability WA Inc. (PwDWA) and UnionsWA have today commented on new West Australian specific data recently released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on the incidence of discrimination faced by people with disability, which includes working people that have acquired an injury, disease or been harmed through employment. You can view Samantha Jenkinson, ED of PwDWA address media in this video:


Key Findings:

  • Of 322,900 West Australians with a disability aged over 15 years, around one in ten, 9.4% or 30,200 people report having faced some form of discrimination in the past year.
  • Among West Australians with a disability aged over 15 years almost half, 44.5% of those with a disability report facing discrimination in the provision of some form of public or other services such as hospitality, education etc. and around 40% experienced discrimination through work.
  • Australia-wide, 24.1% of people with a psycho-social disability report facing discrimination, up from 21.5% in 2015;
  • Between 2015 and 2018 the workforce participation rate of all Australians aged 15-64 years was 84.1% and rising, while for Australians with disability the participation rate was only 53.4% and unchanged. The rate of full-time employment for people with disability has improved only slightly over these past three years, up from 7.9% in 2015 to 11.4% in 2018.

Samantha Jenkinson, Executive Director, People with Disability WA Inc. said:

“Discrimination in employment for people with disability is the biggest issue that is seen by the Australian Human Rights Commission and continues to be a major barrier for participation in our communities.

“Sadly, the ABS data on disability employment unfortunately doesn’t hold any surprises for People with Disability WA, PWdWA.

“The high and rising rate of discrimination for people with mental health issues is particularly concerning.

“People with anxiety and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, from work are not being supported and transitioned into alternative employment options.

“Often employers are not aware of the range of support available to make workplaces accessible and to shift workplace culture and understanding to mentally healthy workplaces.  

“People with disability see the world differently because of the different experiences we have, an untapped resource for innovation, creativity and problem solving.

“Government and employers need to step up when it comes to employing people with disability, and retaining staff who have experienced workplace injury.”

Owen Whittle, Assistant Secretary UnionsWA said:

“Given the importance of full-time employment as a means of independence and material wellbeing, having fewer than one in eight people with disability in such work is not a good outcome, even taking into account that some may only be able to work part time.

“That one in four of people with a psycho-social disability such as poor mental health report facing discrimination should be a great concern.

“This is particularly so as work can also be a serious factor for pyscho-social wellbeing

“Discrimination in our workplaces, whether from an employer, co-workers or between working people and service users is very high.

 “We need better work health and safety practices and laws to prevent the incidence of workplace injury and acquired disability.

“Access to decent, paid employment is a fundamental that underpins the livelihood of most West Australians.

“However, this data shows that people with disability are systematically denied access to work, often as a result of discrimination which can and should end.”

Further information

The ‘Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings, 2018, (ABS 4430.0) is available online here

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