What is ‘Disability’?

Disability is part of life for around one in five Australians, and can result from accident, illness, congenital or genetic disorders. There are many different kinds of disabilities – physical, intellectual or mental health related, such as depression or anxiety. A disability may be visible or hidden, permanent or temporary, and may have a minimal or substantial impact on a person’s abilities. Specifically, a disability may affect a person’s mobility, or ability to learn or communicate easily.


Job hunting

Embarking on your job search can be both an exciting and challenging time. People with disability may find the process easier if they are able to effectively and confidently deal with the issues related to disclosing disability, negotiating workplace adjustments and flexible work practices with an employer. It is also useful to have a broad knowledge of anti-discrimination legislation covering disability employment.


Although people with disability make a significant contribution to the Australian workplace, studies have shown they experience a greater level of unemployment than those without disability. In addition they are more likely to be under-employed or in an area outside their desired career, be working part time or self employed. However, evidence suggests that once in employment, they are equally, if not more productive, take fewer sick days, and remain in the job longer than their colleagues without disability. This contradicts many negative stereotypes about disabilities in employment and shows that there is a strong business case for employing graduates with disability.


Careers for Graduates with Disability, published by Graduate Careers Australia, is a helpful resource on issues facing graduates with disability. If you or someone you know has a disability and is a university student, recent graduate or a person with tertiary qualifications seeking to re-enter employment then visit www.graduatecareers.com.au to download a free copy or pick it up at your university careers service.


Disability employment assistance services

Nation-wide federal government programs such as the Disability Employment Services provide specialised assistance with areas such as job hunting, résumé writing, disability disclosure, workplace modifications, incentives to employers and on-the-job support.


These services are available to eligible Australians with disability, injury or ill health aged 14-65. Further information is available through both the Dept of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) and Centrelink, however you are still eligible to use Disability Employment Services if you are not receiving, or are not eligible to receive, a payment from Centrelink.


Australian Network on Disability internship program

The Australian Network on Disability offers a four-week paid internship program called Stepping into… during the winter semester break (June/July) each year. Stepping into… offers positions in a range of academic disciplines and locations.


Thanks to Marayke Jonkers and STEPS Disability Qld Inc. for assisting with this article. For more information visit www.steps.net.au.


MUST SEE sites

Australian Network on Disability: www.and.org.au
Australian Govt/CRS Australia: www.crsaustralia.gov.au
Disability Employment Services: www.deewr.gov.au/DES
Disability Lifestyles: www.disabilitylifestyles.org.au
Diversity@Work: www.diversityatwork.com.au
Australian Human Rights Commission: www.hreoc.gov.au
Australian Govt/JobAccess: www.jobaccess.gov.au


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