17 Oct 2023

Member for Kiama Gareth Ward, the first ever person to hold the Disabilities portfolio with lived experience of disability, has used Parliament to move a Notice of Motion to highlight disability employment targets in the public service.

People with disabilities experience three times the rate of unemployment of the general population and around half of people with disabilities don’t participate in the labour force.   

Footage of my Notice of Motion is available here

“Whilst I commend both sides of politics for their shared commitment to disability employment targets in the public service, we still have a long way to go with most agencies not even close to meeting their employment goals,” Mr Ward said. 

“My motion calls on the government to publish a dashboard for each government department which provides data on disability employment to ensure accountability around inclusion and employment. 

“Employing people with disability needs to be considered at the recruitment stage, it can’t simply be an afterthought. 

“People with disabilities are some of the most dedicated and committed employees any organisation can have. And it shouldn’t just be government focusing on more inclusive employment policies,” he said.

“Some public servants have told me they fear revealing their disability due to concerns around promotion or workplace bullying. These comments are concerning. 

“Disability employment shouldn’t just be about ‘counting’ people in the public service with disabilities, we should be actively recruiting people with disabilities, at all levels, to ensure our departments are reflective of the border community. 

“Whilst I commend the commitment from political leadership for a target, it appears leaders in the bureaucracy have failed to act. We require our political leaders to ensure senior public servants deliver on government policy positions on disability employment and inclusion,” Mr Ward concluded.

My Notice of Motion in Parliament today was: 

  1. Notes that people with disabilities experience some of the highest rates of unemployment of any labour force cohort. 
  2. Acknowledges the bipartisan commitment of the Coalition and Labor to disability employment targets in the public service. 
  3. Notes that disability employment targets must be considered as part of public sector recruitment. 
  4. Calls on the NSW Government to create a publicly available dashboard for each government department which details disability employment statistics.