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Disability employment to help boost national economy

Tags: Disability and NDIS

Orca Project's coffee cart practice, NDIS post-school work training for people with disabilities, aged 17-21 years old, in Brisbane

Image: coffee cart practice at the Orca Project

A recent report found that increasing the number of people with disability who are employed by 10 per cent would raise national economic output by $16 billion per year. Unfortunately, the Employment and Disability report by Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre claims that the employment gap for people with disabilities is widening.

This underuse of the talents of people with a disability is concerning for Wesley Mission Queensland who work tirelessly to empower young adults living with disabilities by providing them with the training and work experience they require to help find employment and achieve their goals.

Welsey Mission Queensland’s ORCA Project is an NDIS post-school option for people with disabilities, aged 17-21 years old in Brisbane. It aims to help close the disability employment gap, as the report shows that while about 4.4 million Australians live with disability, their participation in the workforce has declined.

The ORCA Project started as an idea back in 2015 by Founder and Manager Alison Cox. Her daughter, Jasmin, who has a disability, was struggling to find options for herself after graduating from school. While her peers went on to pursue TAFE or university, Jasmin had limited options to pursue her post-school interests.

“The ORCA Project aims to help each young person who walks through our door to discover who they are as a person and who they are as a worker, and find out how their passions can connect with a workplace,” Ms Cox said.

“The ORCA Project advocates for a 'work first' approach, aligning with BCEC's recommendation to prioritise meaningful employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities."

Each participant has their own unique desires and needs, and our goal is to provide them with the support to boost confidence in themselves. Young people can take on our service and recognise the value they can bring to a workplace.

Orca Project's phone practice, NDIS post-school work training for people with disabilities, aged 17-21 years old, in Brisbane
Image: phone practice at the Orca Project

The ORCA Project not only addresses the employment gap but also contributes to fostering a more inclusive workforce and promoting policy changes to improve employment outcomes for young people living with disabilities.

While the economic benefits highlighted in the BCEC report would be significant, it is important to recognise the positive impacts on the health, wellbeing and life satisfaction of meaningful employment and greater social inclusion for those living with disabilities.

Wesley Mission Queensland is encouraging organisations to stop focusing on the ‘dis’ of the ability and instead celebrate all the things people living with disabilities are capable of, by offering opportunities for them to work within their organisation.