Page 3340 - Week 09 - Thursday, 24 August 2017

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At the heart of it is having high expectations of people with a disability, who, with the right adjustments and a flexible employer, can be just as productive as other employees, if not more productive.

To conclude, the committee understands that people with disabilities make fantastic employees, and we strongly encourage all organisations in the ACT to consider how they make employment opportunities accessible to all members of the Canberra community. I would like to take this opportunity to personally thank all members of the committee for their contributions to this report, and also our secretary, Kate Harkins, for her work in putting it together. I commend the report to the Assembly.

MS LE COUTEUR (Murrumbidgee) (12.09): Very briefly, I wish to note this report. I was part of the committee. It is certainly an important issue, and I thank very much the range of people and organisations who came to talk to the committee about their issues, particularly those with a lived experience of disability. That is the issue that I will briefly talk about. The learning that I got from this was that we do not have very good, clear definitions of disability. I asked every witness a question about what the definition was and whether they personally felt that it applied to them. It was clear that we do not have consensus on the subject.

The ABS has a definition which in some ways is particularly unhelpful with respect to these sorts of issues. I will read it out. The ABS defines disability as:

… a limitation, restriction or impairment, which has lasted, or is likely to last, for at least six months and restricts everyday activities.

On that basis I would hazard a guess that there is more than one disabled person in this Assembly. Maybe not most, but many of us have some. After we went through this, I went back to my office and discussed it with my staff, and I am able now to say that I have a disabled member of staff. I never realised that I did, and the staff member does not identify as a person with a disability. I believe that 50 per cent of the people defined as disabled are in fact over 65, showing, as I was illustrating before, that disability and ageing are related in many cases.

Where this relates to disability employment is that I think it is very hard to talk about needs for someone who has a very minor issue. They might need a better chair with decent support or they might need to stand up every so often so that their back does not hurt, and travelling along the spectrum possibly to physical or mental disabilities.

One of the things that we need to do to advance the debate is to be clearer about what we are talking about. I am pleased that this was the first recommendation of the committee’s report.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Education, Employment and Youth Affairs—Standing Committee

Statement by chair

MR PETTERSSON (Yerrabi) (12.12): Pursuant to standing order 246A I wish to make a statement on behalf of the Standing Committee on Education, Employment

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