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Public hearing 9: Pathways and barriers to open employment for people with disability

The Royal Commission held Public hearing 9 in Brisbane from 7 to 11 December 2020. An additional day was held in Brisbane on 24 March 2021.

This hearing examined the barriers to open employment for people with disability. This was the first public hearing of the Royal Commission concerning economic participation of people with disability.

People with disability told the Royal Commission about their experiences in finding and keeping jobs in open employment, their transitions into and out of the workforce, and their experience of discrimination and exploitation.

The issues examined at this hearing included:

  • the human right of persons with disability to work without discrimination and on an equal basis with others

  • the systemic barriers to people with disability attaining meaningful employment, including attitudinal, physical/environmental, organisational and structural barriers

  • how these systemic barriers contribute to violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability

  • links between meaningful and sustainable employment and inclusion of people with disability into broader society 

  • the experience of women with disability, First Nations people with disability, and people with disability who are from culturally and linguistically diverse, refugee and/or migrant backgrounds, or who identify as LGBTIQA+

  • employment programs and how different systems such as the Disability Support Pension, the National Disability Insurance Scheme and Disability Employment Services interact

  • how employers can build inclusive workplaces to promote employment opportunities and career advancement for people with disability, as well as making adjustments for people with disability in finding, obtaining, maintaining and returning to employment

The focus of public hearing 9 was on open employment. The Royal Commission is intending to consider segregated employment settings further in later hearings.

On 24 March 2021, Counsel Assisting presented their oral submissions in relation to Public hearing 9. These oral submissions set out the key themes that emerged from the evidence, proposed findings and the proposed scope of the Royal Commission’s further inquiry into the themes and issues identified in the hearing.

Parties who were granted leave to appear at Public hearing 9 had the opportunity to appear virtually and present oral submissions in response.