Jobsupport Awards Ceremony

It's really wonderful to join you here today.

I would like to, just for anyone that has vision impairments, give you a visual description of myself.

I am pretty short. I've got curly and dark hair, glasses and I'm wearing a red dress.

It is a real celebration this morning and I would like to start also by acknowledging the Traditional Owners of the land on which we met the Gadigal people.

A big thank you also to Phil Tuckerman and the people of Jobsupport for this celebration. I would like to also acknowledge my colleague Dr. Mike Freelander, who's been a patron of Jobsupport, but also such a passionate advocate for giving people the opportunity in the Federal Parliament.

Now since becoming Minister for Social Services two years ago, it's been my mission to increase the opportunities for people with disability and provide access to meaningful work and importantly, career opportunities.

And Jobsupport and other DES providers have been a key part of making this a reality.

Now we know that, still, despite the progress we've made, the unemployment rate for people with disability is higher than those without a disability.

And so we do need to continue the effort to shift this dial.  

And I'm really keen to ensure that the conversations we have about barriers to employment aren't just conversations about the problem.

We need to talk about the solutions. And while the focus is often, and should be, on how we best support individuals take the opportunity to get meaningful work, we also need to start and continue the conversation about the huge benefits employers get from taking on someone with a disability.

Someone that might not have been thought about before. Because if you look just at the awards we're having today for 20, 30, 40 years of work, there is no doubt that commitment to one's job is something that clearly people with a disability are bringing to their work.

So I think making sure that we are all getting the message that this is an opportunity for businesses and employers to take on someone and gain all the benefits that it actually brings. All the benefits that our diverse workplace brings.  

Now of course the work that Jobsupport does in helping people with a disability to find suitable employment, gain work experience and obtain training opportunities goes a long way to giving people with a disability opportunities.

And of course it goes a long way to removing barriers to employment. The commitment of Jobsupport to put jobseekers at the centre of the service is clearly shown through the long term employment outcomes that we're celebrating today.

Of course that key ingredient is what Jobsupport demonstrates. By closely working with employers and building trust, they match people to the right job, which is supported by on the job training for an employee, training for employers and ongoing support. Those are the really key ingredients in achieving sustainable job outcomes.

And I think today, as we said, it is a celebration. It’s more than 200 employees that we're recognising today, which really shows the success that this is. Now many people here today are real examples of how getting the right support helps you not only get a job, but keep a job.

I've just heard a few of those stories today and I thought I would just mention a couple. Anna, who I think is here today, started her journey with KU Concord Children's Centre 40 years ago and it was one of the first placements of its   kind in Australia.

Anna and KU Concord Children's Centre were pioneers, opening the door to employment opportunities for thousands of people with disability.

For other people like Greg and David employment has given them independence, new skills and experience, allowed them to travel the world, buy properties, get married, and not to mention make incredible long lasting friendships.

These are just two of the stories that have come across my desk and I know that in this room there are many more. And I think the length of service, as I've already touched on, being with the same employer for multiple decades, whether that be for 20 or 30 or 40 years is a testament to the fact that people with disability can maintain long and successful careers, bringing valuable skills and experience to businesses that are fortunate to employ you.  And of course, what business wouldn’t want to have a long term employee.

I also like to acknowledge the businesses in this room. There are many businesses that have worked in a really collaborative way to ensure that these opportunities are realised and many of you are reaping the benefits.

But we do need more employers to do this. Now we know that there is a strong appetite for employers to employ people with disability. In fact, a recent survey said 93% of large businesses and 89% of small businesses are open to hiring people with disability but only around a third of them do so.

So we need to be continually working in partnership to make sure that we're showing these businesses that with the right adjustments, a change in attitude, and a bit of flexibility they too can experience the benefits of employing someone with a disability.

Now from the Australian Government's perspective, as already mentioned, we have a big investment in the Disability Employment Services Program. And this has been an important area of my work on becoming Minister for Social Services.

Of course, we are going through a reform process at the moment where we want to make quality central.

For some participants in the DES system, they haven't felt that they've been at the centre like they have felt at Jobsupport. And so we have introduced a new Quality Framework that's all about measuring the experience of people with disability and how they experienced their Disability Employment Services.

But in addition to that, we're also working with a number of employers in particular, and our new pilot, which we're working on with the Business Council of Australia, is about more than just entry level jobs.

It is about working with big employers to have a career, not just a first job, but many jobs, many promotions and that work is currently underway with the likes of Kmart, with Target and a number of other retailers that will support that.

But in addition we're also looking at areas where they are crying out for new employees. Whether that be in the hospitality industry or other areas. Working with employers to show that with those changes in attitude, with a bit of extra flexibility so much can be achieved.

So I’d just like to congratulate everyone here today for their successes and to everyone that's worked very hard.  Also for all the cheerleaders out there.

I'm sure there are parents and friends and siblings and children that are here to support those award recipients, those businesses.

But in particular to Jobsupport, congratulations for your more than 30 years of work and as Social Services Minister, I look forward to continuing to see these great results into the future.

So thank you very much for having me here today.