Media Release: October 2022
We can do better: training Australian workers to be more responsive to disability
With 18 per cent of Australians living with disability, sectors including education, healthcare, justice and social services are being challenged to respond better to their clients and customers.
Minister for Social Services, Amanda Rishworth MP said the Albanese Government understood services and supports were not always built with people with disability in mind.
“In listening to people with disability through the Jobs and Skills Summit and other forums, I can appreciate the frustration they experience when they face barriers and feel misunderstood,” Minister Rishworth said.
The Australian Council of Learned Academies (ACOLA) recently completed a study for the Australian Government under the Australian Disability Strategy 2021-2031 on ways to improve training for disability responsiveness.
This report, Ensuring Occupations are Responsive to People with Disability, was today released by Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth.
The work outlines six key principles and five key areas for action by stakeholders to improve the delivery and impact of training and professional development. These include training of university and VET staff, mandatory refresher training for workers, improved training standards, increased co-design and delivery of courses with people with disability, and sector-specific action plans.
ACOLA Chief Executive Officer, Ryan Winn said many allies existed within the occupations, governments and training bodies, and this boded well for further efforts to improve the inclusion of and responsiveness to people with disability.
“Change is always difficult, but there is a pathway for stakeholders. We have developed a Good Practice Guide and Action Plan to help sectors, training bodies and occupations develop a responsive approach towards people with disability,” Mr Winn said.
“We examined the strengths and weaknesses of training and professional development for education, healthcare, justice, and social service occupations given the important role these sectors have. We’ve also looked at issues experienced by people with disability in their interactions and engagement.
“Our investigations looked at learnings from other sectors, such as the creative sector, and the role of technology to increase occupations’ responsiveness to people with disability.”
Chair of the ACOLA Board, Professor Richard Holden FASSA FES said training was core to increasing disability responsiveness of occupations, but it must be underpinned by co-design and facilitation by people with disability.
“ACOLA also found training should be tailored, timely and focused on the needs of workers in occupations and the community they serve, especially people with disability,” Professor Holden said.
“People with disability have the right to feel confident in the skills and capabilities of all professionals to support them and that Australia has the knowledge to better include people with disability, and monitor developments and progress to address disability responsiveness.”
Minister Rishworth welcomes the leadership ACOLA has demonstrated by examining the ways to improve training for disability responsiveness, and producing resources such as a good practice guide and action plan.
“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,” Minister Rishworth said.
“As an Australian Government-funded initiative to support Australia’s Disability Strategy 2021-31, I look forward to discussing ACOLA’s findings with my state and territory colleagues.”
ACOLA encourages all stakeholders, including all levels of government and industry, especially those in the education and training sector, to consider the report’s findings and develop their own response and action plan.
“ACOLA is taking its words into action and has developed its own plan, to inform its role in implementing the report within its Members, the Learned Academies, and the sectors.” Mr Winn said.
A copy of the report including Easy Read and Auslan translation can be found on the Australian Disability Gateway at www.disabilitygateway.gov.au, and ACOLA’s response can be found at www.acola.org/disability-responsiveness.
Australia’s five Learned Academies provide independent, authoritative and influential research-based advice across research domains, build public awareness and understanding of research, and champion, celebrate and support excellence in Australian research and innovation. The Academies are:
- Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia
- Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences
- Australian Academy of the Humanities
- Australian Academy of Science
- Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering
ACOLA is the forum whereby Australia’s Learned Academies come together to contribute expert advice to inform national policy; and to develop innovative solutions to complex global problems and emerging national needs.
This work was funded by the Australian Government as part of Australia’s Disability Strategy 2021–2031.