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Education and Employment

Creating Disability Inclusive Workplace in COVID-19 world

Disabled man on wheelchair wearing medical face mask for coronavirus protection.

On International Day for People with Disability 2021 (IDPwD21), the Law Society of NSW, is launching a new workplace guide designed to help legal practices and law firms create disability friendly workplaces.

In Australia, 4.4 million people, or nearly one in five, have a disability. Six percent of Australia’s legal profession identifies as having a disability or long-term illness.

President of the Law Society of NSW, Juliana Warner, said there is still much to be done to achieve workplace equality for people with a disability.

“As the peak association for 43% of the nation’s solicitors, the Law Society recognises how important it is to foster a safe, equitable and accessible workplace for persons with disability, for the legal profession and the community at large,” Ms Warner said.

“People with a disability are a fundamental part of society – as a matter of principle, society should change in order to accommodate people living with impairment and not the other way around,” Ms Warner said.

The Law Society’s new guide, Creating a Disability Inclusive Workplace, provides practical steps that legal workplaces can take to improve recruitment process to make positions accessible to the best candidates, including people with disability.

It also outlines ways to create a disability inclusive workplace and the benefits that this can yield.

The guidance also provides a number of case studies of organisations who have successfully improved accessibility and inclusivity in their workplace for people with a disability.

“Employers who adopt diversity and inclusion best practice in their workplace are providing all of their staff with the opportunity to realise their potential,” Ms Warner said.

“This can also have positive business outcomes for law firms and other employer organisations.”

Ms Warner said the COVID environment, where working online from home has become the norm, has created opportunities as well as new challenges in the workplace for people with a disability.

“In creating a disability friendly workplace, law firms and legal workplaces also need to ensure that online content is accessible to people with a disability.

“By this we mean online content that is easy to understand and easy to navigate.”

Ms Warner will launch Creating a Disability Inclusive Workplace at an IDPWD21 panel discussion on Thursday 2 December 2021.

The Law Society webcast will explore leadership and participation in the law for people living with disabilities in a post COVID environment.

The panellists will draw on their lived experiences as solicitors navigating the legal workplace, sharing practical ideas on how we can better promote an understanding of disability issues, create a more accessible workplace, and improve access to justice for clients with disabilities.