Disabled People Employment Challenges

Disabled People Employment Challenges

Select a current disability practice or services issue and critically analysis with reference to legislation and policy including social justice, human rights and social inclusion.

1 Select and describe a current or contemporary issue or challenge confronting people with disability, careers or services

2 Research the issue in depth including the academic literature relevant to the issue you have selected.

3 Research legislation and policies that are relevant to the issue you have selected. Consider issue of social justice, human rights and social inclusion.

4 Critically analyses the situation referring to the literature, legislation and policy

Barriers to Employment Participation Among Individuals with Disability in Australia

The participation of the people with disability in the Australian mainstream employment is very low compared to that of other Australians. In 2016, only 56.6 per cent of the males and 49 per cent females with disability were actively involved in the workforce compared to 88.5 per cent males and 76.5 per cent females without disability (Australian Bureau of Statistics [ABS], 2018). Poor employment participation of the people with disability in Australia points not only to the unfriendly workplace conditions but also the broader contexts of inclusion in society. The Australian Social Inclusion Board, as quoted by the Australian Human Rights Commission (2013), defines social inclusion as “having resources, opportunities and capabilities to learn, work, engage and have a voice.  The Australian government has support programs to grant people living with a disability with resources and opportunities to promote inclusivity. Despite these efforts, disabled people face various forms of discrimination in life. The discrimination is harboured by the systematic barriers, which have been institutionalised in all societal aspects (Lindsay, 2010). Workplace discrimination, lack of adjustments to suit their needs, and financial constraints are major factors influencing the employability of the disabled in people Australia. Even though the policies and legislation have had some positive impact in promoting disabled people inclusion in employment, the significance of the impact is limited due to their complexity, and there is a need to apply more proactive measures at the level of potential employers.Order Now from Course ResearchersIssue Description

With the emphasis on the inclusion in society, there has been a growing need by the people with disability to participate in mainstream employment. People living with disability have been insisting that they too want equal rights to employment like all other Australians. The social group wants to be able to access work-related benefits, including financial security and active participation in the economy (Bonaccio et al., 2019). However, this desire has been marred by multiple barriers in the acquisition and retention of employment opportunities. These barriers not only limit participation in mainstream employment but also the representation in the sector. People with disability are underrepresented in the employment sector, a factor that makes it difficult for them to challenge the existing policies and legislations.

The unemployment rates for people with disability in Australia is extremely high; twice the national unemployment rate average (Meltzer et al., 2019). One of every five people in Australia is living with a disability (ABS, 2018). Unfortunately, only half of the total disabled population of the working-age has formal employment (ABS, 2018). The greatest obstacle that the people living with disability encounter in securing employment opportunities is unconscious bias. There are only a few institutions in Australia that give opportunities to people with disability. The few organisations that employ people with disability in Australia only set a limited percentage of positions to be filled by people with disability (Vornholt et al., 2017). Although there are some workplaces which currently strictly employ people with disability, the job openings are too few to make a significant change in the participation levels.  The bias in most workplaces has led to significant levels of stigmatisation and discrimination against disabled people who manage to penetrate the job markets.

To secure a job opportunity in the current Australian job market, an individual is required to have adequate information on the job openings and have access to continuing support to remain relevant in the highly dynamic job market. People living with disabilities lack access to this information and are unable to obtain ongoing support (Ruhindwa et al., 2016). Despite the growing necessity to create a platform to offer support in the form of information for people with disability to participate in the Australian labour market, none has been created, and most of the disabled populations continue to be victims of inadequate information.

Participation in mainstream employment for people with disability comes along with unseen financial costs not experienced by other Australians (Meltzer et al., 2019). Disabled people have extra needs which require additional finances to meet. Most workplaces in Australia are not disability friendly. They have inflexible working environments which may not be accommodative for the people with disability. These working disincentives for the people with disability in Australia lock them out from attaining optimal participation in the workforce like other Australians.

Analysis of the Issue

The employment gap between the people with disability and the rest of the population in Australia has not changed for decades. People with disability are more likely to be part-time employees compared to people without disability (Meltzer et al., 2019). Additionally, people with disability in the Australian workforce are compensated relatively lowly compared to other Australians (Meltzer et al., 2019). The existing participation and workplace conditions imply that there is much that needs to be done in addressing the barriers to job participation among the Australians living with disability.

The existing bias towards people with disability in many working environments premises from the belief that disabled people have limited productivity. Employers usually recruit employees depending on the contribution that they can make towards the achievement of the organisational goals and objectives. In all spheres of life, people with disability are viewed as underachievers (Lindsay, 2010). Disabilities are usually linked to intellectual deficiencies, a fact that has led to limited job openings for people with disability (Abbott & McConkey, 2006; Meltzer et al., 2019). As a result, some employees think that employing a disabled person is more of a liability than a benefit. There seems to be an existing disconnectedness between the government services and the organisations that advocate for equal rights for disabled people. The links between potential employers and disabled individuals are also limited. Disabled people lack timely access to information about vacant employment posts and how to apply for them; this is a well-known barrier that is being addressed by the government through Disability Inclusion Plan (NSW Government, 2019). They also lack a comprehensive understanding of the financial and health implications of participating in the workforce (Ruhindwa et al. , 2016). Lack of this information on employment trends makes it hard for the people living with disability to engage in meaningful relationships and activities that could earn them job opportunities.Order Now from Course ResearchersThe entry of a disabled person in the workforce is financially demanding as they have to cater for financial costs attached to their personalised needs. In most cases, they require specialised transport which, is usually not catered for in the work compensation (Meltzer et al., 2019). The costs of participation may be so escalated making the employment less significant due to the limited returns after the deduction of the costs. Also, active participation in the workforce in Australia, in most cases, demands that an individual forgoes disability-related benefits (Vornholt et al., 2017). Withdrawing the disability benefits without proper work compensation measures has major financial implications on the lives of the disabled people. To fit well into the existing work environments, people with disability who enter the workforce require some adjustments. The required adjustments may be in the form of work schedules, equipment or environment (Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission). Failure to adjust the work environments brings about challenges in physical access to the work premises, the working equipment and work schedules. If the workplace is not adjusted, disabled individuals may be unable to keep their jobs for consequently affecting their job participation levels.

Relevant Legislations and Policies

Debates about the participation of the disabled people in the labour force started emerging in the last decades of the 20th century following the passing of laws against the discrimination of the disabled people. Initially, the disabled would lead their lives fully dependent on their relatives and the government. The social awareness that emerged in early 21st century caused the formation of various organisations and holding of campaigns to challenge the unequal rights that the disabled in the society (Australian Human Rights Commission [AHRC], 2018). The major disability legislation and policies linked to employment participation in Australia are the Disability Discrimination Act 1992, the Disability Services Act 1986, Social Security act 1991 and the National Disability Insurance Scheme Act 2013. Other disability laws in Australia apply at state and territory levels.

The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1992 safeguards all the disabled Australian citizens against any form of discrimination linked to disability (Women with Disabilities Australia [WWDA], n.d.). DDA was endorsed in 1992 in response to a series of lobbying by people living with disability and human rights activists. The act ruled out the discriminatory provision of facilities, services and goods for people with disability unlawful (WWDA, n.d.). The act also makes it illegal to discriminate against people with associates who are disabled. The Disability Services Act was enacted in 1986 with its sole aim being to assisting the people living with disability to be able to get and maintain employment (Ozdowski, 2002). The act was meant to provide a coordinated approach to employment participation among the people living with disability. It also contains Disability Services Standards, which guide in the provision of quality services. The Social Security Act sets conditions for disabled Australians to get a range of social security payments. These payments include the Disability Support Pension (DSP), sickness allowance, and a Child Disability Assistance Payment (Ozdowski, 2002). The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Act 2013 sets a framework for the application of the National Insurance Disability Scheme (WWDA, n.d.). The scheme supports not only people with disability but also their carers. The act allows the disabled control over the fund, which helps in proper and insightful distribution of the support.

Application of the Legislations and Policies

The implementation of the disability-related policies and legislation has resulted in some major alterations in society, mainly concerning how disabled individuals are treated in Australia. People in Australia are more aware of disabilities than they used to before. As a result, most of them (over 50 per cent) exercise a certain level of leniency and sensitivity towards disabled people (Ozdowski, 2002). Generally, the inclusion of the disabled people in major social functions can cumulatively be described as encouraging. However, the achievements made are not only uneven but also incomplete (Ozdowski, 2002). There is a need for concerned stakeholders to identify and implement broader strategic tactics to make achievements more visible and meaningful.

The formulation of the policies and legislations to cater for the rights of the disabled people in Australia was an objective strategy to improve their employment participation. However, there is much evidence indicating that the legislations have not been successful in earning the disabled more employment opportunities. The rates of employment and underemployment among the disabled people are still far much higher than those of the people without disability. For instance, most of the complaints received under DDA are employment-related (Ozdowski, 2002). While a proportion of the cases are resolved through conciliation, most of them are done in individual basis a practice that has hindered the development of broad policy strategies by the employers (WWDA, n.d.). DDA has a scope for the development of employment standards. However, it has been impossible for the concerned stakeholders to reach an agreement concerning which standards should be introduced (WWDA, n.d.). A major standard that has been successful in the scope is the decline of discriminatory practices at the workplaces. To create more enabling environments, there is a need to make proper adjustments, especially in the equipment to be utilised at the workplace.Order Now from Course ResearchersDespite the Disability Services Act showing a high potential and being extremely promising to facilitate the employment of the disabled people, it does not live up to its standards. There is a very limited coordination between the employers and the disabled, which lowers the chances of securing a job opportunity (Ozdowski, 2002). The conditions set under the Social Security Act and other financial benefit acts inhibit the people from fitting well into the employment systems. The withdrawal of the benefits upon employment constitutes an injustice as the disabled people still need the benefits to sustain their lives since they are lowly compensated (AHRC, 2018). There have been complaints by the participants in NDIS, citing lack of transparency in the scheme (Henriques-Gomes, 2020). The complexity of the NDIS processes makes many disabled people miss out in support which affects their general welfare and their ability to participate in employment in the future. People with disability require more support to run their lives compared to people without disability. The low effectiveness of the policies and legislations coupled with the excessive complaints implies that the employers do nothing unless when a complaint is filed.


Ending the barriers in job participation among the disabled in the society requires not only the setting up of policies but also fully enforcing them. The disability laws have been in existence in Australia for over two decades without much achievement. The government and other key stakeholders need to re-strategise and review the existing legislation to enable the implementation of more proactive measures. There should be a requirement for all mass employing organisations to meet all the standards to allow for the participation of the disabled in their workforce. To increase the representation of disabled people in the workplace, each organisation should be given an agreed-upon quota for people with disability over a period of time. These crude measures could be more effective in eliminating the barriers to labour participation compared to the existing sophisticated policies and legislations.


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