Australia’s hospitality and retail industries have said they are open to hiring people with a disability, but according to research from the Australian Government, a much lower percentage are actually doing so.

New research released by the Australian Government titled Building Employer Demand Research Report shows that the majority (79 per cent) of Australian employers across these industries are open to hiring people with disability. While these numbers are encouraging, there is room for improvement as only 58 per cent are currently employing someone with disability.

According to Assistant Minister for Social Services, Housing and Disability Services, Sarah Henderson, one of the issues is that while employers recognise the value that people with disability bring to the workforce, they are actually unsure about what was involved in the disability employment process at a practical level.

“Seventy-seven per cent of businesses in food service, retail and accommodation industries believe it is important for their workplace to reflect the diversity in the community by including people with disability,” Henderson said.

“When considering the things that mattered to them, 65 per cent said equal work opportunities for people with disabilities was an issue that was personally important them.

“But the research tells us these businesses want more help to transition from ‘willing’ to ‘hiring’.”

Just 42 per cent of employers in food service, retail and accommodation industries thought their business was equipped to employ someone with a disability, and 42 per cent saw employing a person with disability as ‘a step into the unknown.’

The Job Access website has a range of information for employers to help with the process according to Henderson.

“Through JobAccess, employers can access practical advice and resources on all aspects of disability employment – from recruitment assistance, staff training and financial support, to workplace modifications, and tips for creating flexible work environments,” she said.

“Leading disability employers are already utilising these services and reaping the benefits, but we’re urging more employers to get on board.”

Compass Group Australia, which provides food service and support services to business and industry nationwide, is one organisation echoing that sentiment, joining the Australian Government’s Employ their Ability campaign.

Kathy Scott, Communications Manager at Compass Group Australia, said considering a person with a disability often leads them to the best person for the job.

“As an organisation with more than 10,000 employees, we obviously have a lot of employees who are living with disability, but recently, we’ve been working more closely with Disability Employment Services agencies through JobAccess to actively seek out people with disabilities,” Scott said.

“We’ve found Disability Employment Services has really been keen to understand our organisation and partner with us to provide us with candidates that are suitable for the roles that we offer.

“In the past year, we’ve employed 77 people that identify as having disability, and over that time we’ve had a 94 per cent retention rate, which is a real sign of the success.”

Today is International Day of People with Disability, and for resources and assistance with hiring people with disability head to the Job Access website.

Andy Young

Andy joined Intermedia as Editor of The Shout in 2015, writing news on a daily basis and also writing features for National Liquor News. Now Managing Editor of both The Shout and Bars and Clubs.

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