Through Accessible Island, the Government will lead the community by example with:

  • buildings that are accessible for visitors and employees;
  • accessible information and websites; and
  • accessible employment opportunities and support for employees with disability.

Accessible Island does not seek to capture the full range of government support for people with disability – it complements a wide range of service delivery and policy initiatives. The actions in Accessible Island cover existing, ongoing and new actions. Accessible Island links to, and supports, initiatives in other Tasmanian Government strategies including the:

The Government will seek opportunities to collaborate with local government, business and the not-for-profit sector to share experience and identify new opportunities.

The implementation of Accessible Island will be underpinned by three principles:

  • Ensuring access to and inclusion for government services, infrastructure and communications;
  • Collaboration and consultation – agencies will share expertise and collaborate in the planning and development of services, infrastructure and communications; and
  • Improving employment outcomes in the State Service.

Access and inclusion

Under the first and second DFAs, the Government has made progress to improve access to buildings, facilities, venues and off-premises events and to ensure information is provided in accessible formats. Agencies have reported on their progress in these areas in their annual implementation reports to PDAC.

Through Accessible Island, agencies have committed to continue to monitor and review access and inclusion issues in their physical infrastructure; service delivery; and provision of information (printed materials, websites, audio and video).

Access continues to be a problem for many people who use wheelchairs:

“Most people in wheelchairs have a bad back from being in them all the time. When roads are resealed and you go over them, it can hurt a lot.”

“I have been tipped out of my chair into gutters three times.”

“Doorways are getting smaller while our wheelchairs are getting bigger.”

“We only have one wheelchair taxi in Burnie.”

“There’s a disability parking spot at the hospital but you open the door onto a flowerbed.”

Consultation participants, Launceston and Burnie.

Collaboration

Achieving significant and lasting change for people with disability in Tasmania requires action by the whole community. The Tasmanian Government will work collaboratively with the Australian Government and local government, industry and community groups to make a difference.

Through Accessible Island, agencies have committed to consult with people with disability about their services and in the development of policy and legislation.

Agencies will collaborate and share expertise across government – there is a role for existing cross-agency forums on facilities, information and communications technology (ICT) and human resources. Other opportunities for cross-agency collaboration include the implementation of the Disability Justice Plan for Tasmania 2017-2020; the development of an html-first approach to web design; and the development of procurement instructions.

Employment

Employment continues to be a significant barrier for Tasmanians with disability. In April 2017, the National Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Alastair McEwin, identified employment as a major priority for his term of office. He found that, while people with disability want to work, earn wages and advance their careers on an equal basis with others, they face many barriers including:

  • attitudes and low expectations of employers;
  • fear of losing Disability Support Pension and concessions;
  • lack of support for the transition between education and employment;
  • inflexible working arrangements;
  • inaccessible recruitment practices; and
  • inaccessible buildings, workplaces and technology.

Figure 2 shows that, while the labour force participation rate for Tasmanians with disability was lower than the national rate in the 2009 and 2013 surveys, it had increased by the 2015 survey.

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics – Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers, (Cat 4430)

In 2016, just 3.8 per cent of the employees in the State Service identified as having a disability.[xiii] As the employer of one of the largest workforces in the State, the State Service Diversity and Inclusion Policy and Framework 2017-2020 will provide the basis for a range of initiatives by government agencies to increase the employment of people with disability in the Tasmanian State Service.

“Systemic barriers associated with inaccessible buildings, information and technologies continue to present a major barrier to recruitment of people with disability. It is not uncommon for example for organisations to only consider the accessibility of their work premises when they are concerned about members of the public visiting. This indicates a lack of awareness that a person with disability may well seek to become not just a visitor, but an employee.”

Submission by Equal Opportunity Tasmania (June 2017)

“There is a need to address negative attitudes and recruiter attitudes. Educating employers about mental illness and ensuring resources are available to assist them are areas that need a more sustained approach … A real attempt at improving mental health literacy and challenging stigma across the whole community will assist in breaking down barriers to employment.”

Submission by Mental Health Council of Tasmania (June 2017)

Hobart resident, Claire, is still looking for a job six years after graduating with a degree in Arts and Tourism. Despite also gaining a certificate in tourism retail sales, the closest she has come to working in the industry is volunteering to greet cruise ship passengers.

“I didn't think I was going to get straight into a job, I didn't have those expectations, but I didn't think it would take as long as it has,” she said.

Claire uses a wheelchair and feels that is the reason behind her countless job rejections. She says she is mindful of workplaces with wheelchair access and is careful to apply for jobs she is qualified for but “it just hasn't been happening.”

“It's got to the point where it's incredibly frustrating and very disheartening …. Sometimes I'm really qualified for the position and I suit all the criteria. Those are the ones that, when I get the rejection, they hurt the most.” View Claire's story on the ABC website

This Human Rights Commission has developed a fact sheet addressing barriers and solutions for people with disability getting the jobs they want.

Next: Accessible Island - outcome areas for action