Progress Report - 2006/2007
Employment and income
Objective 4: Provide opportunities in employment and economic development for disabled people.
Improvement in the levels of disabled people’s participation in paid work and the incomes they receive for doing it is critical to their well-being and their ability to take part in a wider range of activities in family, community, social, cultural, economic and public life. Government agencies can show leadership in achieving this objective through things like:
- leading by example and being a good employer of disabled people
- developing work programmes that promote and support disabled people into employment and economic independence
- being flexible in the way disability supports are provided.
A significant achievement in this area is the repeal of the Disabled Person’s Employment Promotion Act 1960. Disabled people now have the same employment rights as other New Zealanders. This is critical if disabled people are to achieve the vision in Objective four of the New Zealand Disability Strategy.
In the 2006 Disability Survey, 60% of disabled people aged 15-64 years are in employment compared with 80% of adults without disability. In 2001, 57% of disabled people aged 15-64 years were in employment, compared with 77% of people without disability.
While this is an improvement, with an extra 3% of disabled adults in employment, there has been a similar increase for non-disabled people, and the gap remains the same. In order to start closing this gap, there are several key pieces of work going on across government. These include:
- Mainstream Supported Employment Programme – run by the State Services Commission Mainstream enables the placement of people with significant disability issues into created positions within the State sector. Currently there are 236 people employed on two-year placements across 49 agencies and 57 schools around the country. This programme places 140 new candidates each year.
The Department of Labour:
- has led development on the toolkit Our Youth, Our Future, containing information about young people with disabilities as employees. The toolkit is to help provide Mayors and Council Chief Executive Officers with the information they need to challenge negative assumptions and stereotypes in their communities – this is part of the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs programme
- developed Choices for Living, Caring and Working – a ten year Action Plan, adopted by Cabinet in 2006, to improve the caring and employment choices available to parents and carers of disabled or older people.
The Ministry of Social Development is working with the Department of Labour on Pathways to Inclusion which sets out the Government’s policy for the development of vocational services for disabled people and aims to increase participation of disabled people in employment and in their communities.
The Ministry of Social Development has also developed Work-focussed Support programmes which aim to increase the opportunities for people to participate in the labour market while continuing to provide social and financial support as needed. During 2006/2007, the package included:
- employment and training programmes
- establishing specialist disability and health advisors to support enhanced Work and Incomecase management
- simplified eligibility criteria for Invalid’s Benefit
- extended eligibility for the Domestic Purposes Benefit: Care of Sick or Infirm
- extended provision of Invalid’s Benefit to allow claimants to continue receiving it for up to two years while overseas for vocational or guide dog training.