In April 2023 the Australian government announced new funding for employers recruiting, hiring and retaining people with disability. Australians living with disability and their employers are now eligible for a funding boost specifically aimed at making workplaces safer and more accessible for them.
The Employment Assistance Fund (EAF) provides financial assistance for disability awareness training, Auslan interpreting, work-related modifications and equipment and this marks the first change to EAG caps in 13 years.
This news come after the federal government committed to increasing work opportunities for people with disability following the landmark jobs and skills summit last year, and the development will ramp up funding for workplace Auslan services and building modifications.
Under these changes, the building modifications cap will double from $30,000 to $60,000 to help fund lifts, wheelchair-accessible toilets, access ramps and automatic doors in a move to remove workplace barriers. The annual funding cap for work-related Auslan interpreting services will also double from $6000 to $12,000.
Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth is set to formally announce the funding changes, highlighting that the unemployment rate for Australians with a disability has not improved in 30 years and that she hopes the funding changes will change this.
“With this funding increase, jobseekers can be confident they have the financial assistance to access the Auslan interpreting services they need and that any modifications required to their future workplace are able to be carried out,” she said.
Ms Rishworth went on to say that in the past employers sometimes chose not to go ahead with a modification if they couldn’t afford to cover the difference once they hit the previous $30,000 cap.
“But no one should miss out on a job interview, test or information session because they could not access Auslan interpreting services, or because their employer couldn’t afford the required modifications,” she said.
In response to the far reaching positive implications for jobseekers Coact Executive General Manager Employment & Training Nyssa deWaard says,
“The doubling of the annual funding cap for work-related Auslan interpreting services and building modifications will have a significant impact on jobseekers with disabilities, providing them with the financial assistance they need to access the services they require. We hope that these changes will encourage more employers to consider hiring people with disabilities and create a more diverse and inclusive workforce.
By removing physical barriers like installing wheelchair-accessible toilets, access ramps, and automatic doors, employers can create a more welcoming and accessible environment for all employees – align this with new innovative approaches to hiring people with a disability (like Dylan Alcott’s jobsearch website, The Field) and we will start to see more equitable jobseeker support for people with disability or medical conditions.
Another great point is that the requirement to make funding applications prior to the need for Auslan interpreters to be present at job interviews, site visits, and information sessions has been scrapped. This means that jobseekers with hearing impairment can participate fully in the job-seeking process without facing any barriers or stigmas and still have 5 days to make their claim for support.
We hope that these funding changes will encourage more employers to consider the many benefits of hiring people with disability.”
CoAct delivers customised employment services & workforce solutions to find the right staff for small, medium & large sized employers across Australia.