Jewish Care receives funding to build inclusivity in small business

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2 November 2020
by Maria Platt, Project Manager - Employment Centre

Jewish Care’s Employment Centre has received funding from the National Disability Insurance Agency’s Linkages and Capacity Building program to embark on an exciting new project. The endeavour – called ‘The Campaign' – aims to assist small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to feel more confident about employing people with a disability when rebuilding their workforce post-COVID-19.

“People with a disability prove to be effective, reliable and safe employees when matched to the right job,” said Simon Jedwab, Employment Centre Program Manager. “Small-to-medium businesses are well positioned to harness the advantages of employing a person with a disability, with the added benefit of creating a more diverse and inclusive workplace.”

Employment is one of the key ways in which people living with a disability can be supported to reach their full potential. Based on pre-COVID data, people with a disability are significantly underrepresented in the employment sector, with only 53% of people with disability in the workforce, compared to 85% of people without a disability.

If we look at the instance in the wider Melbourne Jewish Community, there are approximately 1500 people living with a disabilit, with around 1000 being of working age. With the number of people who identify as having a disability increasing across Australia, this number is likely to grow.

“We believe it is essential that people with a disability have the opportunity to work. At the moment, I think there are smaller organisations that are a bit unsure how to approach employing a person with a disability. Perhaps there are concerns that it will be too risky or costly. But, in fact, when you find the right match it can be quite the opposite,” said Jedwab.

Research has shown that employing people with a disability can also have direct business benefits. For example, a more diverse workforce can lead to more engaged employees, resulting in less staff turnover. Employees with disabilities also bring different perspectives and allow businesses to understand and cater for customers with different needs.

SMEs are well-positioned to hire people with a disability. The informal nature of smaller organisations means that they can have greater scope for flexibility in accommodating individual needs. Over 90% of the businesses in Australia are SME’s but a gap still persists around how best to engage people with disability as valuable employees.

The project will result in an action plan that can be rolled out in both the Jewish and wider community to help improve employment outcomes for people with a disability with small to medium businesses.

Jewish Care is seeking community input into the project through a series of consultations, as well as representation on the project steering committee. Jewish Care is specifically interested in hearing from small and medium businesses, and people with a disability and/or their carers.

For more information about becoming involved in the project steering committee, or to participate in community consultation please contact Maria Platt email: [email protected]