The PSA’s Deaf and Disabled Network is today celebrating the end to one form of discrimination of disabled people in the workplace following Budget 2023.
The Minimum Wage Exemption is being axed and replaced with a wage supplement. Currently disabled people can be paid as little as $2 an hour. Ensuring that disabled people have the same access to the minimum wage protection as others eliminates a form of legalised discrimination and puts more money in the pockets of disabled people.
"The current system legalises discrimination against disabled workers, tells disabled people they are worth less than other workers, and contributes to high rates of poverty for disabled people," said Glenn Walker, co-convener of the PSA Deaf and Disabled Network.
"Ending the exemption ensures that disabled people have access to work and also the rights of every other worker."
Workplace discrimination and lack of access to work are a significant contributor to high rates of poverty among disabled people. Working aged disabled people have an average income of $662 a week compared to $1,125 for non-disabled people.
The announcement impacts 800 workers who will have their wages lifted to the minimum wage and follows decades of advocacy by disabled workers, the union movement, and disabled people’s organisations.
Paul Brown, a founding member of the Deaf and Disabled Network, celebrated the achievement.
"One of our goals when we set up the Deaf and Disabled Network was to end the Minimum Wage Exemption Scheme. Advocacy’s a long game sometimes. And sometimes we don’t win, but when we don’t fight, we never win!"