One in five Australians has some type of disability or health condition that restricts a person’s mental, sensory or mobility functions[1] which can present barriers when it comes to finding and maintaining employment. People who live with disability can often feel excluded from the workforce and experience social isolation.

The National Disability Service has launched a new ‘BuyAbility’ initiative that aims to promote and secure a thriving supported employment sector by raising awareness of Supported Employment Enterprises (SEE) that produce high-quality products and services and meaningful employment and training opportunities for people who live with disability.

Local disability organisation Fairhaven Services champions supported employment and operates the largest SEE on the Central Coast that offers over 130 people meaningful work.

CEO Monique Cardon said, “The BuyAbility campaign will raise the profile of supported employment, generate real growth and provide more opportunities for people with disability to work.

We are in discussion with the private sector, education facilities and government at all levels to raise awareness of the value of supported employment for people with disability. SEE employees are supported in their work, receive work place training and skill-building opportunities and, just as importantly, SEEs provide a safe and supported place for people to connect with friends, build confidence and contribute to the local community through meaningful employment.”

NDIS participants must have funding specifically approved in the support category ‘Finding and Keeping a Job’ to be able to work at a SEE.

“It’s of huge concern that only around 2% of people’s NDIS plans nationally have funding in place for this support. We are asking NDIS planners to take a work first approach when developing NDIS plans with participants. It is likely there are people of all ages, including school leavers, who may be unaware that NDIS funding is available to help them achieve their career goals.” Ms Cardon said.

“There is tremendous scope for Fairhaven to offer much more supported employment through its two thriving SEEs. We have a packaging factory, Pacific CoPack, in Tuggerah and Point Clare, and an upcycling re-use hub, Vintage Fair, at Point Clare which produces wonderful products to sell in our pop up shop at Erina Fair,” she said.

“A person’s ability to choose a career and be part of a workplace community can have extremely positive outcomes both socially and economically,” said Ms Cardon. “Anyone wanting NDIS advice or to know more about supported employment is welcome to get in contact with Fairhaven.”

Contact 4349 5500 or email enquiries@fairhaven.org.au

[1] https://www.and.org.au/pages/disability-statistics.html