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Victorian Disability and Social Services Regulation Amendment Act 2023

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Employers Guide to Hiring People with Disability

An older woman and a younger woman look at a tablet while standing in a nursery. To the left is a blue background with white text that says Employers Guide to Hiring People with Disability

Key benefits

  • Increased employer confidence and capacity to attract, recruit, employ and provide a supportive and sustainable workplace for people with disability
  • Increased awareness and provision of supports to employers to build their capacity to provide inclusive and safe work environments

Who is this for?

Employers and/or job seekers with disability

On this page:

About this resource

The Employers Guide to Hiring People with Disability resource, like our Diversifying Disability Employment resource, is designed to build awareness of disability employment options, considerations, and supports and increase employer’s capacity to provide inclusive and safe work environments.

Disability is a broad term that includes physical, intellectual, psychiatric, sensory, neurological, and learning disabilities or any combination of these conditions.

Disability can be:

  • Visible or invisible
  • Permanent or temporary
  • Present from birth or acquired

Two people with the same diagnosis may be impacted very differently by their disability

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Why employment is important

Employment can be a beneficial experience for anyone, regardless of whether they have a disability. Employment can provide people an opportunity to earn a primary income, establish and build a career and a professional network. In addition to these benefits, people with disability often report that work helps improve their mental health, building self-confidence.

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The benefits of diversity 

People with disability have a wide range of experiences, skills, and qualifications to bring to the workplace, and can work in a range of jobs across all levels. One in five people in Australia identifies as having a disability, so when businesses employ people with disability they are ensuring their workforce is more reflective of the community they do business with. It also acknowledges people with disability as consumers in our economy. Workplaces that employ people with disability report that their staff are happier and more comfortable discussing their own needs, as well as having honest discussions about how the workplace could be improved.

We know that:

  • Diverse workplaces are ten times more likely to be effective, nine times more likely to be innovative, and five times more likely to provide excellent customer service
  • Employees with disability can adapt, problem solve, are time efficient and have strong time management skills. They are highly productive, less likely to be absent, and have fewer workplace accidents
  • Employees with disability are four times more likely to stay with their employer, resulting in lower recruitment costs and they have a ninety per cent or better record of attendance

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Employment Supports 

In Australia, there is a wide range of support available for employees with disability. Some people may require additional support to become work ready. These supports are often minimal and require very little from an employer. These supports are usually low cost and increase benefits to the employer.

Disability Employment Services (DES)

DES are available to support people with disability to obtain employment. DES providers work with jobseekers to ensure that they are work ready, including offering career advice, resume development, and other training. DES providers can work with employers to ensure a good fit and smooth transition into work. DES has two streams of support:

  • Employment Support Services (ESS) – for those who have a permanent disability, chronic illness, or injury, and
  • Disability Management Services (DMS) - for those who have a temporary disability, illness, or injury

For more information, please visit the DSS website.

Job Access

Job Access is a one-stop shop for advice and support on employing people with disability. Funded by the Australian Government and delivered by industry professionals, Job Access provides free expert support to help remove barriers to employing people with disability. This includes an advice service, an employer engagement team, information on workplace modifications, support and training.

There is also an Employer Toolkit and a suite of video case studies including people with disability talking about their employment arrangements. For more information please visit the Job Access website.

Workforce Australia

Workforce Australia is a network of organisations funded by the Australian Government to offer employment services to individuals who are unemployed and receiving government income support payments. It serves as a valuable resource for both employers and job seekers, providing a customised support network and an online service. Workforce Australia plays a crucial role in helping individuals find and sustain employment, facilitating smooth transitions between jobs, and even supporting the establishment of an individual's own businesses.

For more information, visit the Workforce Australia website.

National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)

The NDIS can help with reasonable and necessary funding for eligible people. In the workplace, this could include on-the-job training and assessments, support with tasks, or on duty supervision. For more information please visit the NDIS website.

Other employment platforms include:

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Equity and Inclusion Planning

Advertising

When advertising, use clear, plain English and avoid jargon. Clearly state role expectations and focus on the aspects of the role that need to be achieved.

You could include a statement that lets jobseekers know that you are willing to customise the role for the right employee. Reducing work hours, modifying tasks, or allowing the employee to work from home can mean a great deal to a person with disability and ensures an inclusive and supportive workplace. Try to limit key criteria to between 5- 10 points. State in your advertisement that you encourage applicants with a lived experience of disability and are willing and prepared to explore and provide workplace modifications and solutions.

Quality candidates can be dissuaded from applying, by unnecessary requirements or qualities listed as part of the role. Being flexible with your requirements allows job seekers to determine whether they would be a good candidate for the position. For example, if a driver’s licence is not essential to perform the tasks associated with the advertised position, it does not need to be listed as a requirement.

Where possible, include a diversity statement that encourages applications from people with diverse backgrounds, including people with disability. Include image descriptions on any advertisement, website or other socials, and if using videos, include closed captions.

Share your advertisements with your local DES providers and on disability employment websites to ensure that you reach the right candidate.

Disclosure

There is no legal requirement for a person to disclose their disability unless it poses a safety risk.

With one in five people in Australia having some form of disability, employers should make a habit of ensuring their workplace is a culturally safe space for people with disability. It is good practice to ask questions such as, “Do you have any accessibility requirements?”, or “Is there anything we can do to make your transition to work easier?”.

Letting candidates or employees know how to access the building, public transport or accessible parking options, and providing contact details of your Diversity and Inclusion Officer can help ease concerns the employee may have. Being open and having these conversations early in the employment process can make a world of difference to people with disability, and shows that they are engaging with a supportive workplace that embraces diversity.

Equity and Inclusion plans

When developing an equity and inclusion plan, ensure your staff are invited to contribute. With so many Australians known to have a disability, you may have existing staff with an invisible or undisclosed disability or staff who have a personal connection to disability, such as a friend or family member.

Establish a working group including people with disability and talk openly with your group to try to think of ways your organisation could be more inclusive. Identify barriers that might limit opportunities, such as physical structures, signage, or technology. Be honest about what your business does well, and what it can improve. It may not be feasible for your business to modify the workplace on a significant scale, but minor changes can often make a world of difference.

Review your policies and procedures, making sure they are in an easy-to-read font and kept in an accessible location and format. Use inclusive and respectful language., Wheelchair users only make up 0.4 per cent of people with disability, but wheelchair users are usually the first and sometimes the only type of disability that people think of when considering potential employees with disabilities. Try not to fall into the trap of catering to one particular type of disability.

Consider providing disability awareness training to your employees. The Let’s Talk Disability crew are available and can deliver training to any business across Australia. Their details can be found on the Let's Talk Disability website. Think outside of the box and consult with people with disability when needed. Remember that it is always better to ask rather than to assume.

This resource was created as part of the Diversifying Disability Employment project, which was made possible by funding provided by the Tasmanian Government.

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This resource page was published on 30 May 2023.

Contact information

For any enquiries, please contact Amy Standen, Project Coordinator, submit enquiry/feedback show phone number