Employment With a Disability
Evidence proves maintaining employment while living with a disability increases quality of life, living standards, personal health and, importantly, improves self esteem.
Challenges may be faced in employment, however, there is never a better time to be working or looking for work whilst living with disability in Australia. Improvements to Australian disability support under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) are continuing to evolve, to ensure you are supported on every front to look for and maintain employment. The information below ensures you get the right support to meet your current employment needs.
Who Can Help Me Gain Employment?
Although there are many changes taking place within the Australian Employment Services, at present Disability Employment Services (DES) is best prepared to help you prepare for, secure and maintain employment. Your DES provider will work with you every step of the way to:
- Prepare for work including access to job specific training courses
- Write your resume and prepare for interviews
- Provide information on local employment opportunities
- Purchase work-related modifications, such as adjustments to your work environment or communication devices
- Provide ongoing on-the-job support when needed
These specialised employment services are free if you are deemed eligible. To find your nearest DES provider and register for their support, you will need to contact Centrelink first. Centrelink will determine what support needs you require and determine your eligibility.
What If I Can’t Do The Job I Was Employed To Do?
If you are unable to perform the role you were employed to do, it is important to discuss your concerns with the key people at your workplace. Together you can determine flexibility with the duties you perform, hours you work or whether modifications and/or technology can be implemented to support you. Generally, the key people within the workplace to best assist you are located in the Human Resources or Occupational Health & Safety departments.
It is also important to speak with members of your healthcare team, including your GP, to get guidance and professional support to ensure your employer is equipped with information pertaining to your workplace needs. An occupational therapist is trained to be able to assess and develop strategies to support you maintain employment. Speak with your GP to get a referral to a local occupational therapist. Alternatively, JobAccess have occupational therapists who will work with you and your employer to develop a plan to assist you with maintaining employment.
I’m Scared I Might Lose My Job, What Now?
Work Assist is available to you if you feel you’re at risk of losing your job due to your condition. Fortunately, you do not need to be receiving Centrelink benefits to access this program. Work Assist can be accessed through your local DES provider and can help you with:
- Advice about redesigning your job so you can keep working
- Having your workplace assessed to see how it can be changed to make it easier for you to work
- Specialised equipment to help you do your job
To find a Disability Employment Service in your area, visit: Disability Employment Providers
Should I Disclose My Condition to My Employer/Potential Employer?
Disclosure is an individual choice that you can make based on your own personal circumstances. A question more specific to ask is: “Does my condition impact on my ability to undertake my job?” If the answer is “Yes”, there may be implications by you not disclosing. Work Assist provides a wealth of information available to you on disclosure, including:
- Deciding whether to disclose
- When and what to disclose
- Disclosure: pre-interview, at interview or job commencement
- How to talk with your employer about your condition
You can access more information regarding disclosure at: Talking to Others About Your Disability.
What Other Resources Are Available to Help Me?
There is tremendous support in Australia to help you maintain employment. Please explore the links included on this page, and best of all, consult with your healthcare team to determine your needs in finding and maintaining employment.