Victorian Employer Enablement Project to leapfrog journey to access and inclusion for three leading employers

Thu 15 March 2018

Corporate handshake

The Australian Network on Disability (AND) is proud to announce that Barwon Health, Bupa and the Royal Children’s Hospital have all agreed to participate in AND’s new Victorian Employer Enablement Project (VEEP), making it easier for people with disability to work in their organisations. VEEP is backed by the Victorian Government and is designed to help employers reap the rewards of a more diverse workforce that includes people with disability.

The three organisations employ approximately 30,000 people between them and are part of the Health and Social Assistance industry, Victoria’s largest and fastest growing employing industry.

Suzanne Colbert AM, Australian Network on Disability CEO says VEEP will leapfrog these employers’ journey to access and inclusion by providing expert resources to help them include people with disability in their workforces. 

“Barwon Health, Bupa and the Royal Children’s Hospital all want to build their disability confidence to hire, retain and promote people with disability.

“To help them do this, we’ll take the time to get a deep understanding of their business and roles; build their skills to hire and manage people with disability; and deliver a targeted plan so that the people with disability they employ can be retained for the long-term.”

Around 30% of people with disability participating in the Federal Government’s Disability Employment Service (DES) program achieve a job that lasts at least six months. AND’s vision for VEEP is to more than double that and achieve a 70% retention rate at six months. As part of VEEP, the Australian Network on Disability will operate a demand-led brokerage between the employers and high-quality disability employment providers. This will help to ensure the right candidate is matched to the right role and quality post-placement support is provided.

The three employers will be encouraged to develop ongoing recruitment partnerships with these disability employment providers. They will also be encouraged to join the Australian Network on Disability to continue to build their skills and connect with other organisations to share experiences and learnings around employing people with disability. (Bupa joined AND as a Gold Member in February 2017).

“Around 14% of Victorians of working age have disability,” Ms Colbert said.

“More than 275,000 are already participating in paid employment and we know that many more want to. High levels of joblessness among people with disability contribute to high-levels of poverty and deprive employers of valuable potential talent. Australia’s ageing workforce will face increased levels of disability as skilled and experienced employees acquire disability as they age, either through accidents, illness or disease.” 

VEEP comes at an opportune time. March 2018 marks 25 years of the Australian Disability Discrimination Act and presents employers with a great opportunity to make progress on improving access and inclusion for people with disability. In February 2018, the Victorian Government launched its first economic participation plan for people with disability. That plan, called Every opportunity, sets a target for disability employment across all Victorian Government departments of 6% by 2020 and 12% by 2025.

“One of the biggest barriers for employers is not knowing what to do,” Ms Colbert says.

“Many HR and other systems inadvertently screen out applicants with disability or prevent employees with disability requesting adjustments to enable them to perform at their full potential.”

Apart from being the right thing to do, increasing capability to employ and retain people with disability means employers:

  • Attract and retain talent from the entire talent pool and have capability to retain skilled and experienced employees who may have, or acquire, disability. (In the context of a worldwide shortage of health clinical staff expected by 2020.)
  • Reflect and better serve the community in which employers operate, as people with disability make up nearly one in five Victorians (18%) and a large proportion of customers and consumers. Hiring people with disability increases understanding of all consumers.
  • Build reputation and brand as an employer who supports diversity and inclusion, increasing employee engagement and loyalty.
  • Increase alignment with the Victorian Government’s economic participation plan for people with disability, Every opportunity, and the Victorian Minister for Health’s commitment to increase participation of people with disability in Victorian health services.
  • Mitigate risk and increase ability to understand and better meet legal obligations within disability discrimination legislation, such as the need to offer workplace adjustments throughout the employment cycle: application, recruitment and ongoing employment.

AND commenced engagement with VEEP employers in November 2017 and the project will run to December 2018 with a final report delivered in February 2019. 

AND will leverage the learnings of the successful NSW-Government-funded High Growth Jobs Talented Candidates project (HGJTC) undertaken from 2015 to 2017. That project worked with eight large and growing employers and was found to have made progress to build their capacity to be more inclusive of people with disability. 79% of people with disability placed in employment were still retained at the time of the final review. Nearly 90% of those who had been placed at least six months before the final review were still in employment at that time.

High Growth Jobs Talented Candidates Project Testimonials

Health and Social Assistance Employer:

“Despite our expertise in working with people with disability as clients, we still had to go through the steps to ensure that we could employ them as staff. We didn’t have the expertise and processes from the perspective of an employer of people with disability. We still had to do the training and change the mindset of our organisation’s current employees.”

Food and Accommodation Service Employer:

“Overall the High Growth Jobs Talented Candidates program has had a huge impact on our business both in terms of education and confidence. We now have managers regularly requesting people with disability through our DES Partners which was not happening a year ago. Our engagement of people with disability into employment with us has now increased by 170% on the previous 12 months and we are seeing significantly better retention rates than our direct hire applicants. The success from the project means we can truly say we are doing a good job in terms of recruiting and retaining people with disability.”

Recently employed jobseeker with disability:

"This is the first time I've felt accepted. This is the first time I've felt safe to disclose my disability. This is so much more than a job, I'm part of the community now."  

Employment service provider:

"The demand-led brokerage model is really effective for us.  We have changed the way we work generally  we are now going out to employers first and understanding them and their jobs and then finding the candidates to match."  

About the Australian Network on Disability

The Australian Network on Disability is a national, membership based, for-purpose organisation that makes it easier for organisations to welcome people with disability in all aspects of business. We are driven by our belief that people with disability are skilled and capable social and economic contributors, entitled to equitable opportunities in society. We work together with organisations to help them increase their disability confidence, engagement and action.

The Australian Network on Disability was started in 2000 by a group of employers who had successfully employed people with disability and won a Prime Minister’s Employer of the Year award. They decided to promote the business benefits of the employment of people with disability to other employers. At March 2018, AND had more than 200 members from across all sectors and industries of the Australian workforce. 

About Barwon Health

Barwon Health is Victoria’s largest regional healthcare service and the largest employer in the Geelong, Bellarine and Surf Coast region, employing more than 7,000 people. It serves a geographically dispersed population of 350,000 people through two major sites, with more than 1,000 beds and 21 locations stretching down the coast to Anglesea, Torquay and Lorne. Healthcare services available through Barwon Health cover the full spectrum from emergency and acute to mental health, primary care, community services, aged care and subacute/rehabilitation. Barwon Health’s community health centres provide a range of site-specific primary care, mental health, medical, pathology, optometry, medical imaging, and pharmacy services. Outreach clinics, home based services and telemedicine are available throughout the region; four residential aged care facilities service 370 people and the recently opened Sunrise Centre, a new state-of-the-art rehabilitation centre, is housed within Geelong’s Simonds Stadium.

About Bupa

Bupa is a leading healthcare organisation in Australia and New Zealand, proudly looking after the needs of 4.7 million Australians. Their members look to them for insurance, guidance through the healthcare system and to help manage their families' health for the long-term. Bupa offers cover for hospital, medical, ancillary and ambulance services and travel, home, car and life insurance. They also provide aged care facilities and services through Bupa Aged Care, health phone coaching through Bupa Medical TeleHealth, corporate health services through Bupa Wellness, eye care through Bupa Optical, dental services through Dental Corp and medical visa services through Bupa Medical Visa Services. In November 2017 Bupa opened its first Therapy Centre in West Melbourne. Bupa employs approximately 17,000 Australians.

About the Royal Children's Hospital

The Royal Children's Hospital (RCH) improves the health and wellbeing of children and adolescents through leadership in healthcare, research and education. RCH has been providing care for Victoria's children and their families for over 140 years. They are the major specialist paediatric hospital in Victoria and their care extends to children from Tasmania, southern New South Wales and other states around Australia and overseas. RCH provides a full range of clinical services, tertiary care and health promotion and prevention programs for children and young people and are the designated state-wide major trauma centre for paediatrics in Victoria and a Nationally Funded Centre for cardiac and liver transplantation. RCH employs approximately 4,500 staff.

About Every opportunity: Victorian economic plan for people with disability 2018-2020

Every opportunity is Victoria’s plan to increase economic opportunities for people with disability. The plan was launched by the Minister for Housing, Disability and Ageing, Martin Foley on 8 February 2018. 

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