Employing Disadvantaged People

People with low socio-economic status such as homeless youth, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, new arrivals/refugees and people with disabilities can experience an ongoing cycle of disadvantage. Low socio-economic status leads to poor health which in turn perpetuates low socio-economic status.

Carefully-directed corporate responsibility initiatives can help break that cycle, resulting in more harmonious communities and better health for all. One of the most effective ways business can intervene is by providing employment.

Encourage people with disabilities, mature-age workers, the long-term unemployed, disadvantaged youth and Indigenous Australians to apply for jobs you advertise - and ensure existing staff members are genuinely open to employing them.

You don't have to do it on your own - there are several programs in place to provide support. Go to www.workplace.gov.au/workplace/individual for further information about the programs outlined below, and other programs not mentioned here.

Employing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People

There is more support available now than ever before for organisations wanting to pro-actively employ Indigenous Australians.

Major private sector companies can access funding to develop Indigenous employment strategies and practices through the Corporate Leaders for Indigenous Employment Project.

Wage assistance provides a financial incentive to employ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The National Indigenous Cadetship Project also offers subsidies to employers.

Employing People with Disabilities

Most Australians who have a disability and participate in the open workforce do so at full award rates of pay.

But there are some people who are unable to obtain and/or maintain employment at full award rates due to the effects of a disability on their workplace productivity.

There is a measure in place called the Supported Wage System (SWS), which allows these people to access a process of productivity-based wage assessment and related workplace-specific assistance so they can find appropriate jobs in the open workforce.

The primary source of support - both financial and otherwise - for businesses wanting to employ people with disabilities is the Disability Employment Network.

Employing Older People

With an ageing workforce and the age at which people can access the aged pension increasing over coming years, employers' attitudes to older employees are going to have to change.

While it is illegal to discriminate against people because of their age, many employers - though they would never admit it in public - are loath to hire holder people and even actively try to push them out of their organisations.

But attitudes are beginning to change and enlightened employers realise that the fact that an employee is older does not mean they are less energetic or less able to learn new things than younger employees.

There are a number of relevant recruitment sites, but two of them are www.adage.com.au and www.olderworkers.com.au.