Jobs outlook brighter for people with disabilities

A growing number of people with a disability are assisted in finding and maintaining jobs on the open labour market by services funded by the Commonwealth Government. These services are known as open employment services.

Open Employment Services for People with Disabilities 1995-96 and 1996-97, by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, presents data for the financial years 1995-96 and 1996-97 on open employment services funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health and Family Services.

The data show that at the end of 1996-97 there were about 300 open employment services in Australia assisting 25,000 clients. About one-half of these clients were supported in a job at some time during 1996-97.

The data also show that the services are increasingly successful in placing people in jobs. During 1996-97 the number of clients with a job increased by 30% from 7,309 at the start of the year to 9,479 at the end of the year. This followed an increase of 32% the previous year.

The age of clients ranged from 15 to 64 years. The proportion of younger clients (aged 15 to 19 years) rose from 10% to 16%.

The median duration of jobs current at the end of the year increased from 44 weeks in 1995-1996 to 48 weeks in 1996-97. The average income earned from jobs for the year increased by 4% from $7,344 to $7,624.

Two-thirds of jobs were on a permanent, regular basis. Jobs were spread across all industry sectors, with the leading employers being in manufacturing, retail trade, and health and community services. The average time worked was 25 hours per week, although individual hours per week varied considerably. The average wage was $9.41 per hour.

Both the amount of support given to clients and their chances of getting a job varied considerably with client characteristics such as sex, age, type of disability, presence of multiple disabilities and assistance required with daily living.

Clients had a range of disability types. About one-half were people with an intellectual/learning disability, 22% (one-fifth) had a psychiatric disability and 13% had a physical disability.

It appears that the percentage of clients with an intellectual/learning disability is decreasing as the percentage of those with a psychiatric disability is increasing.


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