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9 Barriers to employment

Australians with disability can face a range of individual and structural barriers at different stages of employment including recruitment, retention and re-entering the workforce.

Certain groups within the community may experience discrimination on the basis of their disability differently from others, for example, older people, women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and LGBTI people. The effects of disability discrimination can be compounded by multiple forms of discrimination. For example, an Aboriginal woman with disability potentially faces discrimination on the grounds of race, gender and disability. Further, multiple grounds of discrimination overlap and produce different impacts.

9.1 For Australians with disability

Some possible barriers Australians with a disability may experience in gaining and keeping employment include:

  • Discriminatory attitudes and behaviours during recruitment, and in the workplace, from employers and others
  • Low levels of awareness of rights at work
  • Lack of availability of jobs
  • Lack of assistance in finding, securing and maintaining employment
  • Difficulty in accessing skills training and education
  • Potential reduction or loss of the Disability Support Pension as a result of increased employment
  • Difficulty experienced in accessing flexible work arrangements
  • Health issues
  • Difficulty in negotiating reasonable adjustments/accommodation in the workplace
  • Lack of availability of accessible transport, technology in the workplace and workplace design.

9.2 For employers of Australians with disability

Businesses and organisations of different sizes, and from a range of sectors and industries, may face particular challenges.

Some possible barriers employers may experience in employing people with disability include:

  • Low levels of awareness of legal obligations in relation to discrimination against people with disability
  • Difficulties ensuring access and flexibility for workers with disability
  • Limited resources, particularly for small business
  • Difficulties in complying with multiple laws and regulations related to anti-discrimination, employment, work, health and safety, workers compensation and insurance
  • Difficulties associated with compliance with monitoring and reporting requirements
  • Lack of knowledge or confidence regarding what is needed to support workers with disability.

Discussion question

  1. What are the distinct challenges faced by certain groups of Australians with disability (e.g. women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, or LGBTI people) in relation to employment discrimination?