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Healthcare employers missing out on untapped talent

Photo: Healthcare employers missing out
Almost half of Australian businesses in the healthcare, social care and education service industries are missing out on an untapped pool of talent by overlooking candidates with disability during the hiring process.

New research released by the Australian Government shows that while the majority of Australian employers across these industries are open to hiring people with disability (79 per cent), a much lower percentage (58 per cent) are currently employing someone with disability.

Jane Prentice, the Assistant Minister for Social Services and Disability Services, said most employers recognised the value that people with disability bring to the workforce, however many were unsure about what was involved in the disability employment process at a practical level.

“83 per cent of businesses in the healthcare, social care and education service industries believe it is important for their workplace to reflect the diversity in the community by including people with disability,” Mrs Prentice said.
“When considering the things that mattered to them, 76 per cent said equal work opportunities for people with disability was an issue that was personally important to them.

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

Just 45 per cent of employers in the healthcare, social care and education service industries thought their business was equipped to employ someone with a disability, and 38 per cent believed employing someone with a disability is a step into the unknown.

Mrs Prentice said a range of supports are available to employers via the JobAccess website to support them through the process.

“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,” Mrs Prentice said.

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

Gold Coast Health is one healthcare employer echoing that sentiment, joining the Australian  Government’s Employ their Ability campaign.

The health service’s Diversity and Inclusion Advisor, Ebru Dogan, said considering a person with a disability often leads them to the best person for the job.

“Aside from working towards an inclusive culture and meeting targets, it brings a diversity of thought that is invaluable,” Ms Dogan said. 

For Gold Coast Health, having a clearly articulated procedure for hiring people with disability ensures a smooth process.

“We’ve worked with JobAccess and Epic Assist for the last few years, and about 10 per cent employees with disability have come through there. Once a position has been identified that a hiring manager wants to fill with a person with disability, we work with a number of organisations to make sure it can happen,” Ms Dogan said.

Epic Assist is a Disability Employment Services (DES) provider, which links people with disability with employers looking for candidates. A workplace health and safety team then helps to determine what will be involved in the job, and what kind of person would be best suited.

“The health and safety assessments are in place to make sure that whoever we end up hiring is set up to succeed. We want our employees to stick around for a long time, so making sure a job is suitable is integral to that,” Ms Dogan said.

When positions require adjustments to ensure that people with disability are able to thrive, services like JobAccess and the Employment Assistance Fund are available to make any necessary changes or acquire new equipment.

Ms Dogan said Gold Coast Health is committed to hiring more people with disability. 

“At the moment we have more than 120 employees with disability working here, but after seeing the benefits, we’re actively looking to increase that number.”

For resources and assistance to hire people with disability go to www.JobAccess.gov.au

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