The region's disability employment and tourism bodies have welcomed a trial scheme promoting closer collaboration of the two sectors to address the country's labour shortage.
The federal government's Visitor Economy Disability Pilot will see $3.3 million invested in workers called 'local navigators' deployed in regional areas to support tourism businesses in finding and employing people with disability.
Warrnambool's WDEA Works employment and sustainability director Brett Orr said any program boosting "disability confidence in the labour market [was] most welcome and needed".
"We support this initiative to bring together employers ... and an alternative labour source of people who are not progressing into employment as fast as those without disability," he said.
"Employer confidence is the key to providing more employment opportunities for people with disability to find meaningful work."
Mr Orr said more opportunities given to people with disability in industries like tourism would have positive flow-on effects for other businesses.
"I am sure local employers would applaud an innovative focus on their ability to recruit and retain workers," he said.
"If business networks are speaking positively about their experiences employing people with disability, and there are education [programs] available, then the opportunities will flow."
Great Ocean Road Regional Tourism general manager Liz Price said the initiative would work well with other funding announced from early-September's Jobs and Skills Summit but called for more investment in worker accommodation.
"The recent federal summit has seen the introduction of some measures including increasing the capacity of older Australians to work more hours," she said.
"But more stimulus will be required including addressing the challenges of available affordable housing."
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Ms Price said she was looking forward to the trial's results which she thought could be useful for other industries.
"[It] is a great way to test and learn, and it would be great to see further investment informed by the results of the pilot," she said.
Data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare showed the disability unemployment at 10 per cent was more than twice the unemployment rate of people without disability at 4.6 per cent in July 2022.
Federal Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth said she was committed to closing this gap, stressing the employment of someone with disability "should not be seen as a charitable act".
"It makes good business sense," she said.
"When the visitor economy is crying out for workers, people living with disability should get opportunities to have meaningful careers in the sector."
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