“By training key sectors to understand the needs of people with disability we can start to shift our systems, address gaps and break down barriers to improve experiences for people with disability,”
The Hon Minister Rishworth MP
Enhancing Disability Responsiveness of Professionals
All people have a right to fair and equitable access to services. While many people with disability successfully navigate services without impact, others experience exclusion, discrimination and marginalisation.
This evidence is visible in processes such as Australia’s Disability Strategy 2021–2031 (Disability Strategy) and submissions to the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability (Disability Royal Commission).
Under Australia’s Disability Strategy, in early 2022, ACOLA was engaged by the Australian Government Department of Social Services to determine how to enhance the training outcomes of occupations across the education, health, justice and social services workforce, to better respond to the needs of people with disability [Outcome Area – Community Attitudes, Policy Priority 2].
The project, Ensuring Occupations are Responsive to People with Disability, explored the context and adequacy of training about disability in Australia and, through this work, ACOLA developed a Good Practice Guide and Action Plan that identified areas for action by all stakeholders, including all levels of government, professional bodies, employers, training bodies (i.e. VET and universities), and individuals.
These areas for action also apply to ACOLA and the Learned Academies and ACOLA has developed a statement in response to the final report.
The Good Practice Guide outlines objectives and principles for good practice in training development, delivery and evaluation. It also provides a practical Education and Training Analysis Tool to ensure education and training align with the knowledge and practice associated with better responsiveness towards people with disability.
Six key principles to enhance the training for all occupations were identified. These principles are associated with more positive interactions with people with disability:
- ‘Nothing about us without us’: Education and training about disability must be developed and delivered with, or by, people with disability
- Capability areas: Training must develop skills, knowledge and attitudes
- Experiential learning: Training must include “on the job” learning
- Addressing bias: Training should enhance a learner’s ability to critically reflect on their attitudes and behaviours towards people with disability
- Fit for purpose: Training must enhance a learner’s ability to critically reflect on their personal attitudes towards and perceptions of people with disability
- Quantum: Disability responsiveness will not be achieved through a single training event or course. Ultimately, outcomes will require an ongoing commitment.
The Action Plan identifies actions for all stakeholders to adopt and implement the Guide and move the training system forward for a more equitable Australia. The plan includes broad and sector-specific opportunities for governments, training providers, professional and industry bodies.
There are five key areas for action to drive improvements in the training occupations receive to improve outcomes for people with disability.
- Active participation: People with disability play a clear, visible and valued role in the leadership of the training
- Sector planning and actions: The training of occupations is tailored, timely and focused on the needs of workers and the community they serve, especially people with disability
- Training packages: People with disability have confidence in the skills and capabilities of all professionals to support them
- Knowledge collection: Australia has the knowledge to better include people with disability, monitor developments and progress to address disability responsiveness
- Government leadership: Australian governments share a collaborative approach to progressing an inclusive society.
- Full report: Ensuring Occupations are Responsive to People with Disability [PDF] [word document]
- Summary report [PDF] [word document]
- Easy Read summary [HTML] [PDF] [word document]
- Plain English summary [PDF] [word document]
- Auslan translation [vimeo]
- ACOLA Statement in Response to Ensuring Occupations are Responsive to People with Disability [PDF] [word document]
- ACOLA media release – report launch [link]
- ACOLA media release – response release [link]
- Input report: Social Deck Engagement Insights Report [PDF] [word document]
- Input report: Disability and the Arts, Creative, and Cultural Industries in Australia. Professor Bree Hadley and the Australian Academy of the Humanities [PDF] [word document]
Other project artefacts available on request
- Technology input paper
- Intersectionality input paper
Auslan translation – Improving disability responsiveness of occupations through training
Expert Working Group
Reflecting ACOLA’s convening power of Australia’s leading minds and expertise to deliver interdisciplinary evidence-based advice, ACOLA has convened an Expert Working Group (EWG) to guide the development of this project. This group draws input from several disciplines to create a well-considered, balanced and peer-reviewed report. The role of the EWG is to provide strategic oversight and provide expert input, analysis and provocative thinking.
|Professor Karen Fisher FASSA (Co-Chair)||Professor Iva Strnadová (Co-Chair)|
|Professor Gerad Goggin FAHA||Professor Cathie Sherrington FAHMS|
|Dr Erol Harvey FTSE|
|Dr Lauren Palmer||Tim Wotton|
|Ryan Winn||Ellen Wong|
|Judita Hudson||Dr Jade McEwen|
We also acknowledge the important contributions from external researchers who have assisted with this project.
|Dr Scott Avery||Dr Laura Davy|
|Professor Bree Hadley||Dr Damian Mellifont|
Project Funding and Support
This work was funded by the Australian Government as part of Australia’s Disability Strategy 2021-2031. Go to www.dss.gov.au for more information.
Acknowledgement of Country
ACOLA acknowledges all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Traditional Custodians of Country and recognises their continuing connection to land, sea, culture and community. We pay our respect to Elders both past and present.
We acknowledge the Ngunnawal people on which ACOLA’s office in Canberra is based, and the lands of the Gadigal (Sydney), Whadjuk (Perth) and Wurundjeri (Melbourne) Peoples where ACOLA staff for this project were based