NDIS supported businesses are being forced to cut hours for employees with disabilities due to slow community pandemic recovery.
While ABS data shows the national unemployment rate dropped to 4.2 percent in December 2021, people with disabilities are not counted in unemployment data due to NDIS payments.
However, advocates and community ambassadors say employment for people with disabilities is about more than just money.
"It's really important because it's what everybody does," disability advocate and SportsRulz founder Pam Dawkins said, "it gives them pride and also a sense that they are contributing to their community."
Keith Mortimer, chief executive of Connecting2Australia (C2A), a registered NDIS provider responsible for hiring people with disabilities, said that the organisation had no choice but to cut hours for staff.
"We had to do this to keep the site sustainable," he said, "we provide supported employment and our team do everything from grounds maintenance, to car-washing, to warehouse sorting."
"We're supported by the NDIS and the payments for services we provide."
Mr Mortimer said clientele for C2A services has decreased during the pandemic, meaning the company is struggling to stay afloat.
"We don't have enough work at present for our supported employees," he said.
"It's really difficult to run a sustainable organisation based on the NDIS funding."
After an extensive consultation process with staff, C2A were forced to cut hours across the board, leaving some employees worried.
Sean Pearce has worked at C2A since he was 17 years old and said the work has provided him valuable life skills and experience.
"It gives me so much structure and purpose," he said, "anyone with a disability doubts what they're capable of doing, they doubt whether they can even be part of the workforce, so to finally be part of it is so important."
Now that his hours have been cut, Mr Pearce is beginning to look for other employment, however he said the process is difficult.
"It's so hard to find a job," he said, "I'm trying to get a job at a supermarket, so I'm putting in my resume to lots of different ones, but it's pretty hard."
Another C2A employee, Trent Hooper, has worked for the company for nearly three years and has had 4 hours a week cut.
"Working is really important for me," he said, "it allows me to connect with my friends."
"I'm worried that I'll lose my job, they don't have enough money and I don't think I can look for another job - I've been there for so long."
While employees such as Sean and Trent worry about the future of their jobs, C2A are calling out to the community to help keep their valuable staff employed and the company afloat.
"If anyone has work or grounds they need maintained they could help us keep providing opportunities for people with disabilities," Mr Mortimer said.
C2A can be contacted for work opportunities on 1300 111 212.
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