Join the fight to end violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability by engaging with the Disability Royal Commission.

Quick Escape

Employment hearings

The Royal Commission’s ninth public hearing examined the barriers to open employment for people with disability. People with disability told the Royal Commission about their experiences in finding and keeping jobs, their transitions into and out of the workforce, and their experience of discrimination and exploitation.

You can find transcripts, documents and videos with Auslan interpretation at the Hearing 9 page on the DRC website. They also published an Employment issues paper and a summary of responses from the community – find out more in our blog post about it.

We live-tweeted the hearing, and you can read our commentary at these links: Monday, Tuesday (scroll up for the start – slight technical difficulties mean the full thread doesn’t show up when we link the first one), Wednesday, Thursday, Friday.

Public hearing 19 followed up on hearing 9 to ask what employers and regulators are doing about those systemic barriers. Transcripts, videos and documents should be up soon. You can catch up on our live Twitter commentary here: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday.

Another follow-up hearing is scheduled for February 2022, focusing on Australian Disability Enterprises (also known as ADEs or sheltered workshops) and Disability Employment Services (DES).

If you’re having trouble with any technical terms in these hearings, check out our jargon buster section about employment terms. Let us know if there’s something you’d like us to add!

Where we stand on Disability Employment

People with disability in this country experience extraordinary rates of poverty. 38% per cent of us have an income of less than $384 per week, which is about one third lower than the poverty line. Over five times more working age people with disability rely on a government payment as our main source of income, compared to those without disability. [Source – AIHW]

Some factors that leave us out of the workforce:

  • Inaccessible workplaces
  • Lack of flexibility in workplaces and recruitment processes
  • Inaccessible and inflexible education pathways
  • Outright discrimination
  • Lack of support for job-seekers with disability, including actively counter-productive Centrelink rules and systems that are supposed to help us

People with disability have plenty to contribute to our community and the economy. And the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is very clear, in Article 27 – Work and employment, that we have a right to work “on an equal basis with others.”

That means:

  • equal pay
  • equal access to the places work happens
  • equal training and development opportunities
  • protection from harassment and coercion
  • safe and healthy working conditions.

Australia has signed the CRPD and promised to make it happen, but we’re still a long way off real equality.

Find out more

The 2016 Willing to Work National Inquiry into Employment Discrimination against Older Australians and Australians with Disability found that too many people are shut out of work because of underlying assumptions, stereotypes or myths associated with their age or their disability. Click through to find the full report, factsheets and an easy read summary, as well as good practice examples for employers.

The PWDA 2019 federal election platform summarised many of the barriers facing people with disability trying to find and keep a job, and proposed a National Jobs Plan to address these barriers.

This year, PWDA made a submission to the Senate Community Affairs References Committee Inquiry into the purpose, intent and adequacy of the Disability Support Pension in collaboration with the Antipoverty Centre. It goes into detail about what needs to be done to make income support for people with disability fit for purpose, including those aspects of the system that are meant to support us in finding work.

You can find a lot of information about disability employment generally and the specific barriers for people with intellectual disability at the Everyone Can Work website by Inclusion Australia.

The IncludeAbility website by the Australian Human Rights Commission has information for people with disability and for employers about disability inclusion.

Our Voice – people with disability tell their stories

Rethinking Recruitment, by Alex Creece

I just want a job, by Liz Hall-Downs