Australian Human Resources

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Work a major source of self-esteem for people with disabilities

May 17 2005 - Welcoming Federal Government’s intention to encourage people with disabilities to join the workforce, the Australian Psychological Society (APS) warned that long-term support is needed to ensure this change does not become a repeat of deinstitutionalisation.

"Work offers a number of important benefits to those who do it, apart from the financial benefits," said Dr Bob Montgomery, Director of Communications for the Australian Psychological Society (APS).

"Work can be a major source of self-esteem, and it gives us a sense of worth as a valuable member of society. It fosters independence and provides adult company and structure to life. Many of these things can be difficult for a person with a disability to enjoy, so the principle of helping this group to find work is admirable.

"If the Government is sincere in its intention of helping people with disabilities to find work then it will also have to work to overcome employers’ prejudices and help to create positive, inclusive workplaces.

"The policy of deinstitutionalisation of those with mental illness removed support from people in institutions and left them to fend for themselves. The APS urges the Government to provide support for people with disabilities so that they can take their place in the workforce,” said Dr Montgomery.

The APS acknowledged Government funding for a further 41,700 rehabilitation places for people with disabilities and extra funding for employers of disabled people for workplace modifications and wage subsidies.

"This support must be adequate and long term, otherwise these changes will only create more stress for people with disabilities and their carers, people who already face the daily task of coping with disability."


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