People with disability

In 2015 almost one in five Australians (18.3 per cent) 6 were reported to be living with a disability. Improving employment outcomes for people with disability relies on ensuring full accessibility of services and communications, and the availability of tailored supports.

Despite a high prevalence of people with disability in our population, workforce representation of people with disability in public authorities remains low. Although attitudes towards disability and people with disability are shifting socially, this has not been matched with increased employment opportunities for people with disability. 7

The DEOPE and the Commission are increasing awareness around managing unconscious bias, particularly during the recruitment process. While unconscious bias is not confined to a particular diversity group, negative assumptions about the capability and advancement of people with disability can adversely affect decision making.

Encouragingly, EEO and PSES data reveals that 86.3 per cent of public authorities had developed, or were in the process of developing an overview of inclusive work strategies in their disability access and inclusion plans. 

While disability can be temporary, employees with disability are those who identify as having an ongoing disability and who may require a range of supports to assist them, such as the provision of specialised equipment. With the right supports and reasonable adjustments, employees with a disability are well placed to excel in their workplace. Data drawn from the EEO survey and PSES indicate that 80.6 per cent of public authorities had in place or were developing strategies to educate managers on support and work modification options available for employees with disability.

1890 people with disability are employed in the public sector

Diversity snapshot - People with disability

Compared with 2016, two more employees in the public sector have identified as having a disability.

An equity index of 105 reflects an equitable spread of employees with disability across the salary bands.

A large portion of employees with disability are employed as education aides at salary bands 1 and 2. A significant proportion of people with disability are in administrative and teaching related roles.

The median age of employees with disability in the public sector is slightly higher than that of other diversity groups. The DEOPE and Commission seeks to address this through the introduction of university cadetships and traineeships for youth and school-based students with disability.

Employees from public authorities that capture broader gender diversity, including employees with disability have used the opportunity, to identify their gender as X (indeterminate, intersex, unspecified). 

Strengthening re​lationships

To continue the conversations generated through the release of the Commission’s ‘See my abilities’ employment strategy, the DEOPE has hosted a number of events to strengthen relationships between the disability sector and public authorities. 

In October 2016, the DEOPE and Public Sector Commissioner addressed the National Disability Services (WA) annual members meeting. A core theme of the address to the members was acknowledging that many of their priorities were captured in ‘See my abilities’ well before the release of their pre-budget submission for 2016/17.

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Representation of people with disability 

  Category of employment

Representation (%)

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

Public sector

Public sector (All staff)

2.6

2.3

2.2

2.0

1.9

Local governments (LGA)

LGA (Indoor workers)

1.7

1.4

1.3

1.3

0.9

LGA (Outdoor workers)

2.9

3.0

2.4

2.5

2.2

Public universities

Public universities (Academic staff)

1.8

1.4

1.5

1.8

0.9

Public universities (General staff)

1.5

1.2

1.7

1.6

1.2

Other authorities

Other authorities (All staff)

1.6

1.4

1.3

1.4

1.4

Distribution (equity index) of people with disability​​ 

  Category of employment

Distribution

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

Public sector

Public sector (All staff)

87

99

101

100

105

Local governments (LGA)

LGA (Indoor workers)

78

92

100

101

94

LGA (Outdoor workers)

81

84

68

87

83

Public universities

Public universities (Academic staff)

101

104

86

88

92

Public universities (General staff)

76

84

88

92

106

Other authorities

Other authorities (All staff)

88

97

88

73

78

In November 2016, the Commission and the DEOPE hosted a luncheon to celebrate International Day of People with Disability (observed on 3 December each year) to discuss issues and challenges in disability employment in the public sector. Chief Human Resource Officers heard from Haydn Lowe, former public sector Chief Executive Officer and Western Australian Disability Enterprises Procurement Manager, who shared his experiences and the benefits of employing people with disability. The DEOPE supports indirect employment and uses contractors who employ people from diverse groups wherever possible.

Key partner

National Disability Services WA

Julie Waylen, State Manager​​

‘National Disability Services is the peak industry association representing the disability sector. In WA, there are more than 105 of our member organisations providing support and services to nearly 26 000 West Australians with disability, their families and carers across our vast State. Our members reach and positive impact also has a much wider flow on effect helping to build better communities. The vast majority of our WA members are not for profit disability, community service organisations and they are a very important part of our society.

We acknowledge and value the importance of a strong partnership approach with the State Government to improve the economic participation of people with disability in WA. This important partnership is an opportunity to show leadership, take action and make real jobs happen. The 2016 See my abilities: An employment strategy for people with disability helps to position the WA public sector, as the State’s largest employer, to make a significant contribution to the employment and career development of people with disability. 

In partnership with our members and the DEOPE we are working to provide a strong foundation to maximise every opportunity to continue to develop and commit to innovative employment first approaches to increase the number of people with disability in work.’

In March 2017, the DEOPE and the Public Sector Commissioner hosted a Disability Network Morning Tea for a variety of community stakeholders from the disability sector. The discussion, chaired by the DEOPE and former Equal Opportunity Commissioner Allanah Lucas, provided an open forum for issues affecting disability employment locally.

In 2017, the DEOPE and the Commission introduced new university cadetships and traineeships for people with disability. The programs offer opportunities to trainees and final year undergraduate students to experience working life in the public sector, and contribute their skills and perspectives to their host authority’s services. This year, three cadets, nine school-based trainees and five full-time trainees participated in the programs.

In focus

Innovation breaking down barriers

South Metropolitan TAFE (SMTAFE) is using innovative approaches to the attraction and retention of people with disability through the implementation of their Inclusive and Diversity Employment Action Strategy (IDEAS) policy. The policy provides a framework for removing barriers and increasing access to employment opportunities for people with disability.

SMTAFE have allocated 2.0 full time equivalent (FTE) for positions that have been identified and preserved as entry level positions for employees with disability. New recruits for these positions are initially contracted for a period of six months.

To further streamline the recruitment process, SMTAFE have teamed up with BizLink Quality Employment, a disability employment service, to tap into their client register as part of the initial assessment of merit, effectively sourcing candidates from a ‘ready-screened’ pool. Over the past two years, SMTAFE and BizLink have worked towards establishing a strong relationship based on a good understanding of both organisation’s desired outcomes for disability employees. 

When vacancies for these positions arise at SMTAFE, BizLink are able to recommend suitable applicants to be progressed through to an informal interview. This arrangement has resulted in a number of successful placements over the past two years. 

Mark Taylor, Director HR who  heads up the committee responsible for the delivery of the IDEAS policy states that ‘working with Bizlink to source suitable candidates provides confidence that applicants referred to us have already been screened, understand what working at South Metropolitan TAFE involves and importantly that support will be provided to successful appointees on an ongoing basis’.

Once employed, SMTAFE supports their employees with disability by ensuring ongoing mentoring, making reasonable adjustments including flexible hours, career progression advice and training. Currently SMTAFE has four Level 1 employees at 0.5 FTE working in Finance, HR and teaching admin roles across the Rockingham, Beaconsfield and Bentley campuses. 

SMTAFE Managing Director Terry Durant fully supports the initiative and stated that ‘the program assists SMTAFE in building our inclusive and diverse culture, reflecting the community we serve, through our workforce’. 

 

6 Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2015, Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (SDAC), Australia: Summary of Findings, October 2016 cat. no. 4430.0.

7 E. Hemphill and C. Tulik, C. Shaping attitudes to disability employment with national disability insurance scheme. Australian Journal of Social Issues 2016;51(3):299.

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Page last updated 14 September 2017