National Inquiry Into Employment Discrimination Against Older Australians and Australians With A Disability

Thursday 16 April 2015 @ 11.00 a.m. | Industrial Law | Legal Research

Yesterday (14 April 2015), the Australian Human Rights Commission launched an inquiry called “Willing to Work: A National Inquiry into Employment Discrimination Against Older Australians and Australians with Disability”.  The inquiry is set to examine “practices, attitudes and Commonwealth laws that deny or diminish equal participation in employment of older Australians and Australians with disability”.

In his speech launching the inquiry yesterday, Attorney-General George Brandis said:

“The evidence is clear and undeniable, employment rates for older Australians and people with a disability remain at disturbingly low levels and we know that is largely as a result of discrimination…

Discrimination is consistently reported as one of the most significant barriers to employment for mature age workers and persons with a disability. It’s faced during both the recruitment process itself and in the workplace.

In 2012, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that workforce participation of Australians with disability was only 53 per cent, and that participation rate had decreased since 2009. It is more pleasing that mature age workforce participation has increased in recent years but there is more that can be done to increase it from its current rate of around only 13 per cent.”

Susan Ryan, the Age and Disability Commissioner, will be leading the inquiry.  She released a statement saying:

“Willing to Work is most timely as employment rates for both older people and those with disability remain unacceptably low…We hope to engage employers of all sizes across public and private employment as well as older people and people with disability themselves and their representative organisations. We will have the cooperation of the relevant government departments. The common goal is to improve opportunities for those experiencing workplace discrimination and maximise human potential to the benefit of all of us.”

According to the AHRC’s website, the terms of reference include examining:

  • the obstacles faced by older persons and persons with disabilities in actively participating in the workforce;

  • discrimination against older persons and persons with disabilities as a systemic problem and a considerable barrier to their enjoyment of human rights;

  • the economic and social costs, and the costs to productivity, that result from discrimination against older persons and persons with disabilities in employment; and

  • the Australian Government’s commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights of older Australians and Australians with disability.

The Commission will then make recommendations for laws to be made or amended or particular action that should be taken to address the issue.

The inquiry will include in-depth research, as well as stakeholder and community consultation stages.  The Commission is currently scheduled to report in July 2016. 

More information can be found on the AHRC website

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Speech: Launch of AHRC inquiry "Willing to Work" (Attorney General George Grandis, 15/04/2015)

Willing To Work (Australian Human Rights Commission, 15/04/2015)

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