The International Day of People with Disability (3 December 2023) is a United Nations observance celebrated throughout the world each year. The day aims to increase public awareness, understanding and acceptance of people with disability and celebrate their achievements and contributions.

One in five Western Australians, or more than 411,500 people, live with disability. Among people over 65 years, two in five report a disability.

Despite a tight labour market throughout Australia, with many businesses expressing difficulty in sourcing staff to fill vacancies, people with disability experience more than double the unemployment rate of people without disability.

Benefits of employing people with disability

Despite the higher unemployment rate of this cohort, employing people with disability can assist both the employee, the business and the community. The Australian Human Rights Commission lists some the benefits of employing people with disability:

  • Employment can provide people with disability with increased income, and therefore higher living standards and financial independence
  • It can contribute to mental and physical wellbeing, including a stronger sense of identity and self-worth
  • Businesses benefit from a diverse range of skills, talents and qualifications that staff members with disability have
  • Workers with disability have higher rates of retention, better attendance and fewer occupational health and safety incidents than those without a disability.

Local business experience

One Western Australian small business that has benefited from employing team members with disability is award-winning play equipment manufacturer, Funky Monkey Bars.

Located in the port city of Fremantle, Funky Monkey Bars has employed two team members with Autism which has proven a mutually beneficial outcome for all parties. The business creates steel frames, utilising all Australian made steel, for building traditional children’s climbing frames and play equipment for both home backyards and public playground use.

Tom Watson is one of these employees, and is featured in the Autism Association of Western Australia’s video.

Video courtesy of the Autism Association of Western Australia.

Expertise on employing people with disability

There are several organisations that provide support services for business owners who are looking to utilise the special skills offered by those living with a disability.

Business owners are encouraged to contact any of the following organisations for assistance and advice about the benefits about employing someone living with disability.

The SBDC’s free business advisory service can also help with advice about employing staff with different needs, as well for anyone who may have a disability themselves and wishes to start their own business.

More information

For more information and resources to help you employ the best staff for your business, see:

01 December 2023