A Case Study Exploring the Challenges Faced by Individuals Living with Disability in the Australian Employment Sector
There are high cases of discrimination against the people with disability in the Australian employment sector. Such people are not given equal opportunities to perform in the employment sector like their non-disabled counterparts. Most employers consider people with disability as not being able to perform to the same level as those who are not disabled. As a result, these people are excluded from the mainstream employment sector in Australia and denied access to employment opportunities which are open to their counterparts who are not disabled (Winn & Hay, 2009, pp.103-115). On the other hand, the few who get lucky to be absorbed in the mainstream employment sector are faced with a myriad of challenges and obstacles that hinder them from performing to equal standards with those who are not disabled. They experience challenges from bosses as well as their colleagues such as stigma, discrimination, stereotypes as well as prejudices.
Environmental, social, attitudinal as well as organizational barriers are some of the reasons that hinder full participation of the people living with disability in Australia in the mainstream employment sector. As a result, the employment agencies instead of stereotyping and prejudicing disabled persons on the basis of their level of impairment should focus on coming up with the best mechanisms that will address the challenges faced by the disabled persons in the employment sector and enable them compete on equal footing with their non -disabled counterparts (Shier, et al. 2009, pp.. 63-75). Some of the barriers that may hinder effective performance of persons living with disability and which needs to be addressed by the government as well as other employment agencies to enable the disabled persons compete favourable include; mobility issues as well as the general inability to carry out activities depending on the level of disability. Nonetheless, judging the capability of an individual to perform in the employment sector based on their disability status is baseless and barbaric.
Studies show that given equal opportunity, the disabled persons are able to perform in the employment sector to the same level or even better than their non -disabled counterparts. These individuals are only disabled and not unable. They are able to perform in the workplace and contribute significantly to the nation’s economic development, social capital as well as contribute positively to the overall development of the wider society (Bigby, 2008, pp.76-86). This is a report of a case study conducted among the disabled community of Australia to establish the challenges they face within the nation’s employment sector, the structural theories that shape the participation of the persons living with disabilities in the Australian employment sector, the inequalities that are inherent within the Australian community and the impact of these inequalities to the disabled persons as they participate in the employment sector as well as how these inequalities links with the global world (Dowse, 2009, pp.571-584). The report also explores the principles and values of community development that apply to the disabled persons and their experiences in the Australian employment sector.
Contrary to the believe by many that people living with disability are supposed to be confined at the roadside begging for help, these people are able and willing to work if given the opportunity in an attempt to achieve financial stability as well as to positively contribute to the economic development of their communities and society. In order to enable people with disability to achieve social inclusion, they should be fully allowed and given equal opportunity to participate in the employment sector of the nation without any form of discrimination, prejudice, stereotype or exclusion (Darcy & Taylor, 2009, pp.419-441). This will not only contribute to their financial sustainability but also contribute to their physical as well as mental health thus make them have a sense of self-worth and personal well-being.
To demonstrate the significance of work to the persons living with disability, Geisen (2011) maintain that engaging individuals in work ends up impacting positively to their well-being, personal health, level of identity as well as social inclusion. Hence, denying the disabled persons a chance to work does not only deny them a chance to contribute to the development of the society and their personal development but also impacts negatively to their health and well-being. Moreover, enabling the disabled persons to work will reduce over dependence on aide through organizations such as the Disabled Support Pension of Australia (DSP) as well as help the government of Australia address the rampant problem of labour shortage witnessed in the country (Forlin, 2006, pp.265-277). Furthermore, involvement of the disabled persons in the employment sector will help promote principles and values of community development such as independence, self -determination, social justice and equity and community ownership as well as reduce overdependence on welfare benefits.
One way through which the government of Australia can help persons living with disability have equal access to employment opportunities as their non-disabled counterparts is through education. Low education level among the disabled persons is a major contributing factor to the high levels of unemployment among the disabled people not only in Australia but across the globe. Most families view disabled children as a burden and therefore do not take them to school. As a result, there is a high illiteracy level among disabled persons across the world (Hall & Wilton, 2011, pp.867-880). This makes it hard for the members of this group to compete favourably in the labour market with their non-disabled counterparts.
Education will not only make the disabled persons gain access to employment but will also enable this group of persons acquire and access the principles and values of community development such as inclusivity, social justice and equity, enhanced natural capabilities and networks, community ownership as well as community self- determination. Having adequate education will help convince and appeal to employers within the Australian employment sector who hold misconceptions that employing a disabled person could slow the production rate of their businesses (Crowe, et al. 2006, pp.1497-1500). Furthermore, giving a disabled person the necessary adequate education will help change the attitude of employers who hold the belief that employing a disabled person comes with risks such as recruitment and maintenance costs.
Research among employment agencies discovered that there are quite a number of employers willing to employ persons with disabilities. However, these employers fear that lack of confidence among the disabled persons in the knowledge they possess and the necessary competency to fulfil tasks could affect the performance of these people at the work place. Such employers lack trust in the skills that the disabled persons have and as a result fail to look at the benefits which such persons can bring to the organization rather than the disadvantages. Moreover, concerns over lack of disclosure among the disabled persons for a disability is one of the reasons affecting such people being recognized at the work place and given the necessary support to enable them perform (Humpage, 2007, 215-231). Most members of the disabled group fear disclosing their disability status due to the fear of being stigmatized and alienated from the mainstream employment sector.
Power and Inequalities in the Socio-Political-Cultural Structures and its Effects to Disabled Persons and their Experiences in the Employment Sector
Due to a long history of discrimination that stems from the family level, most disabled persons in Australia lack access to education. There are inequalities in the education of the disabled and the non-disabled due to structural discriminatory policies and practices. As a result, most disabled persons live in poverty and in slums with overcrowded housing facilities where they are surrounded by various levels of crime and where some live with malnutrition while others are left wondering on the streets of cities such as Melbourne as beggars.
As a result of the living conditions of these persons, abolishing structural discriminatory policies and practices will be of little assistance to them as pertains to their involvement in the employment sector. Many will still be found unfit to hold positions in the formal employment due to a lack of education. At the same time, since they live in slums with poor infrastructural facilities, many will find it hard to access places of work (Meekosha & Dowse, 2007, pp. 169-183). Moreover, structural discriminations that manifests in the social and political systems promote inequalities in the employment experiences between persons living with disabilities and their counterparts who are non-disabled.
Disabled persons are subjected to discrimination in the systems such as justice, education, health as well as in the public service. Most of these systems are concerned with profit maximization rather than service to humanity. As a result, disabled persons who live in poverty are denied access to these basic systems due to a general of financial power to allow them access. As a result many end up suffering and even dying due to the lack of access to basic amenities such as health (Killackey, et al, 2006, pp.951-962). To address these issues wholesomely, strategies and solutions which promote ownership of the solutions that address their challenges should be adopted.
The government of Australia in an attempt to address the experiences of persons living with disabilities in the mainstream employment sector has come with strategies that ensure employment support for disabled persons. The government has come up with initiatives of funding various agencies and networks that support people living with disabilities in the employment sector. Some of these agencies include; Disability Employment Services (DES) and the 2016 Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA). In an attempt to empower persons living with disabilities, the government has come up with the National Disability Insurance Scheme, to offer financial assistance to persons with disability and enable them set up businesses hence save them the hustle of going out looking for jobs (Grady & Ohlin, 2009, pp.161-169).
Furthermore, community development organizations under the umbrella of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has also come in handy with various initiatives aimed towards addressing the inequalities in the employment experiences between the disabled persons and the non-disabled persons. The processes employed in improving the experiences of persons living with disabilities in Australia in the mainstream employment sector and the outcomes registered can be considered as effective practice. The number of disabled persons employed in the mainstream employment sector has grown (Patterson & Pegg, 2009, pp.387-402). Moreover, the living conditions of disabled persons has tremendously improved since they have access to sources of income through the mainstream employment sector as well as through businesses set up using the various grants from the government as well as from other community development agencies. Furthermore, due to public sensitization, the stereotypes and prejudices against disabled persons in the employment sector has reduced to a great extent.
Nonetheless, the developmental community work theory adopted by the government as well as by the various community development agencies to address the experiences of the persons living with disabilities in the mainstream employment sector has limits that have made them not to fully address the issues facing disabled persons in the mainstream employment sector. The development theory of stratifying persons as disabled and non-disabled and giving special treatment in the employment sector to one group could not fully address the employment problem among the disabled persons (George, et al, 2008, 165-176). A part from the negative experiences faced by persons living with disabilities in the employment sector in Australia due to prejudices and stereotypes that lead to discrimination, it is worthwhile to note that some of the employment experiences faced by these persons are self- instigated. As a result, other social theories such as the Transpersonal theories of human development could be used to address the employment problem among persons living with disabilities (Townsend-White, et al. 2012, pp.270-284). This theory that puts emphasis in making an individual to view themselves beyond identity roots in their bodies could help the disabled persons rise beyond self- pity and compete for employment opportunities favourably with other members of society.
In conclusion, persons living with disabilities just like any other person have the capability to compete favourably in the mainstream employment sector if given the necessary support. Community development practices towards helping persons living with disabilities should be implemented to reduce the stereotypes and prejudices against this group of persons and to allow them contribute positively to the development of the society.
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