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Employment support for people with disability

Brianne Turk

Need extra training, assistance with an interview or on the job support? Check out these services available throughout Australia.

Regardless of the type of disability you experience or its impact on your work, there are services available to assist your employment journey. From skilling up and writing CV’s, to managing interviews and addressing workplace adjustments, these services are designed to support you to reach your career goals. They provide training, confidential advice, financial assistance, workplace assessments, technological aids, and the human resources necessary to help you land meaningful work that suits your needs. They also provide reassurance and peace of mind.

Read through the summary of each service below to find out which might be the most appropriate support for you.  

JobAccess

JobAccess is the main Australian Government initiative that aims to support the employment of people with disability. It is a website and phone service that provides information to jobseekers and employees with disability, together with their colleagues, employers and service providers.

Head to their website for information about searching for a job, workplace adjustments, employer/employee rights and responsibilities, recruitment advice and information on various types of disability. Their free phone service also offers confidential professional advice to all parties.

During your recruitment phase and beyond, JobAccess is a great resource to pass onto employers. It can help them gather the tools necessary to best support you. When using the website, simply select whether you are a person with disability or an employer of someone with disability, and you’ll be directed to the pages relevant to you.  

Website: www.jobaccess.gov.au
Phone: 1800 464 800

Disability Employment Services (DES) and Australian Disability Enterprises

The Australian Government also funds two specialist agencies that support people with disability to find and maintain work. These are:

  • Disability Employment Services (DES)
  • Australian Disability Enterprises

DES is a network of businesses Australia-wide who provide support to jobseekers who have a disability, injury or health condition. They assist individuals at all stages of the employment process, from getting ready for the job search, the job-hunt itself and during working life. This support comes in the way of industry-specific training, the development of resume and interview skills, interpreting services, workplace modifications, employer and co-worker support, and more. DES is not a recruitment service.

Australian Disability Enterprises on the other hand, is a pool of over 600 businesses which provide employment for people with moderate to severe disability, in a range of industries including design, screen printing, manufacturing, packaging, landscaping, food services, laundry and more. Australian Disability Enterprises ensures that employees with disability are provided with similar – if not the same – employment conditions as those without disability.

DES website: www.dss.gov.au/our-responsibilities/disability-and-carers/programmes-services/disability-employment-services
Australian Disability Enterprises website: www.dss.gov.au/disability-and-carers-programmes-services-for-people-with-disability/australian-disability-enterprises
Phone: Centrelink on 13 2717

Recruitability

Recruitability is a scheme that is also run by the Australian Government. It is designed to attract people with disability to apply for employment in the Australian Public Service (APS) while simultaneously promoting disability awareness and cultural change in APS recruitment teams. The Recruitability scheme allows individuals with disability who apply for vacancies, the opportunity to automatically progress to the next stage of the recruitment process – providing they meet all eligibility and minimum requirements of the role.

If you want to apply for a position through the Recruitability scheme, you must share that you experience disability, but you’re not obligated to provide further information about your disability.

Website: www.apsc.gov.au/publications-and-media/current-publications/recruitability-applicants-guide
Email: diversity@apsc.gov.au

Employment Assistance Fund

The Employment Assistance Fund provides financial support to people with disability and/or mental health conditions – as well as to their employers – for employment-related support, services and modifications. This fund can be used to reimburse the cost of a wide range of activities, including interpreter services, modifications to work vehicles and other work environments, disability awareness training, communication devices, specialist services for individuals with specific learning disabilities, and more.

You can use this fund as you prepare for and look for work, as you commence a new job, and throughout your employment. You can also request a free Workplace Modification Assessment which involves a qualified assessor visiting your workplace to provide recommendations in consultation with you and your employer, regarding modifications or adjustments that could make the workplace more accessible for you. This assessment is usually mandatory if you are wanting to claim an expense greater than $1000.  

Website: www.jobaccess.gov.au/employment-assistance-fund-eaf 
Phone: 1800 464 800

Mobility Allowance

You may also be eligible for Mobility Allowance, which provides support for people whose disability makes it difficult to use public transport without significant assistance. This allowance can only be used if you are travelling between home and your workplace or training facility, or to look for work.

Website: www.humanservices.gov.au/individuals/services/centrelink/mobility-allowance

Australian Network on Disability

Another fantastic resource is the Australian Network on Disability (AND). The AND is a member based organisation that supports employers to include people with disability in all organisational aspects, by sharing knowledge and resources, running training and facilitating networks. Even though the AND works with employers, they offer a comprehensive website with numerous fact sheets and publications which may be of interest to individuals with disability.

The AND also runs the Stepping Into Internship and the Positive Action towards Career Engagement (PACE) program. The Stepping Into Internship program provides skilled university students who experience disability, a paid internship at a leading business. The internship is a minimum of 152 hours and the AND can assist with any workplace adjustments you require.

The PACE program is a terrific mentoring program where students and/or jobseekers with disability are matched with a professional from a leading Australian business. In this program you’ll have the opportunity to meet with your mentor six to eight times in three months, for one or two hours at a time. In these catch-ups you’ll receive careers advice, networking opportunities and participate in professional and personal development covering areas such as resume development, interview techniques and learning about industries of interest. You’ll also discuss the impact of your disability on your career and any adjustments you might need. The PACE program aims to build life and workplace confidence and can be tailored to your specific interests and needs.

Australian Network on Disability: www.and.org.au
Stepping into Internship: www.and.org.au/pages/stepping-into...-programs.html 
PACE program: www.and.org.au/pages/apply-for-mentoring.html

Supported Wage System

Lastly, if you’re someone whose disability significantly impacts your work productivity, you and your employer may choose to make use of a Supported Wage System. This system allows organisations to pay you a wage based on your productivity. To make use of the Supported Wage System, a qualified assessor will take you through an assessment to determine a fair arrangement for both parties.

Website: www.jobaccess.gov.au/supported-wage-system-sws

For tips on how to navigate applications and interviews when you experience disability, check out our article about a smooth sailing recruitment process.