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Canberra Business Chamber unlocks the potential of workers with disability

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The Canberra Business Chamber yesterday brought together leading representatives from the hospitality industry, the disability sector and the ACT Government to discuss the untapped potential of people with disability, who are among the most under-represented workers in the nation.

The event at Braddon’s Deco Hotel was held to launch the Chamber’s new Skills and Inclusion Program, which is helping ACT businesses understand the considerable benefits of hiring people with disability and connecting them with job-ready employees at a time many are suffering debilitating labour shortages.

Panelists including Matt Morrissey of Embrace Disability Group, Matt Parkins of Hotel Ibis Watson and James Hawketts of the Australian Hotels Association joined founder and CEO of Hotel Etico Australia  Andrea Comastri in sharing stories of their experiences and successes in hiring people with disability.

Hotel Etico in the NSW Blue Mountains is the first Australian outpost of the highly successful Italian-born social enterprise which trains and employs people with disability to run financially sustainable hospitality businesses.

Mr Comastri revealed that Hotel Etico was eyeing expansion on the Australian eastern seaboard, with Canberra a location of particular interest provided the right property and partnerships were in place.

“Some employers put people with disability in the too-hard basket thinking it will be too costly, too difficult or too time-consuming to integrate them into the workplace,” Canberra Business Chamber CEO Greg Harford said.

“But people with disability generally take fewer days sick leave, stay in jobs longer than other workers, and have good problem-solving skills. Hotel Etico’s great success in integrating and harnessing the potential of employees with disability provides valuable learnings for Chamber members at a time when finding and retaining good people is one of the biggest problems they face.”

The Skills and Inclusion Program will help Canberra businesses seamlessly employ disabled people through an online toolkit that includes free educational materials, training modules, case studies, action plans and connections with disability representatives.

“The Chamber’s well-established connections across the business community, government, industry, training and education providers, and the disability sector means we can help our members by bringing together the right people to identify opportunities for people with disability to make a valuable contribution in Canberra workplaces,” Mr Harford said.

The Skills and Inclusion Program is funded by an Australian Government Department of Social Services grant. The program will initially focus on the hospitality, cyber security and tourism sectors across the ACT and immediate surrounds, with the aim of becoming a broader, scalable model with the potential to be applied by chambers Australia-wide.




CBC Media Contact:     Greg Harford, CEO of CBC
CBC Office:                       02 6247 4199