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Disability Employment Australia: Resources and Information

Disabled World: Revised/Updated: 2018/01/17

Synopsis: The Australian Commonwealth and State Governments fund a range of programs to encourage employment for people with disabilities.

Main Document

Among OECD countries Australia is ranked 13th out of 19 in employment rates for all people with a disability. Only half of working age Australians with a disability have a job - compared with 80 per cent without a disability - yet the nation is struggling with the challenges of a skills shortage. Is business overlooking a home grown resource? What are the barriers, and how can they be overcome?

Disability Employment Services providers are a mix of large, medium and small, for-profit and not-for-profit organizations that are experienced in supporting job seekers with disability and experienced helping businesses to put in place practices that support the employee in the workplace. Through Disability Employment Services, job seekers with disability, injury or health condition may be able to receive assistance to prepare for, find and keep a job.

The Australian Commonwealth and State Governments fund a range of programs to encourage employers to employ people with disabilities and a large number of disability employment network services (DEN) support people with disabilities into employment. The Australian Government is committed to ensuring people with disability receive opportunities to reach their potential through participating in the community and the workforce.

There are two types of specialist agencies to help people with disability find and maintain work:

Australian Disability Enterprises

Australian Disability Enterprises provide real and meaningful employment for people with disability.

There are around 20,000 people with disability working in more than 600 Australian Disability Enterprises Australia-wide. The Disability Employment Assistance page provides resources to assist Australian Disability Enterprises.

Australian Disability Enterprises are businesses enabling people with disability to work in a range of industries - from design, printing and packaging, to manufacturing, laundry and landscaping. Employees enjoy the same working conditions as those in the general workforce.

For further information about working in an Australian Disability Enterprise, or for a person in your care call Centrelink on 13 2717

Disability Employment Services

On 1 March 2010, the Australian Government introduced the new Disability Employment Services (formerly Disability Employment Network and Vocational Rehabilitation Services), delivering employment assistance for job seekers with disability.

Disability Employment Services are delivered by a network of organizations around Australia. These organizations play a specialist role in helping people with disability, injury or health condition get ready to look for a job, find a job and keep a job.

Centrelink Disability Employment Services

Provide specialized employment help for people with a disability, injury or illness. Centrelink is an Australian Government Statutory Agency, assisting people to become self-sufficient and supporting those in need.

A person does not have to be receiving, or be eligible to receive, a payment from Centrelink to use Disability Employment Services. In most cases a person must be assessed by a Job Capacity Assessment Provider before they can access these services.

The assessment must indicate:

  • that the person has a disability, illness or injury.
  • the level of support a person requires.
  • the types of assistance required to help them get a job or to stay in a job.

If you are seeking a referral to Disability Employment Services and you do not have a current eligibility assessment, a new one may be arranged for you by Centrelink, or in some cases by the Disability Employment Service provider.

If you have been assessed as eligible for referral to Disability Employment Services, Centrelink can provide you with information about suitable service providers in your area, and can make a referral for you. If you need more help, contact Centrelink.

In Addition:

The Australian Vocational Rehabilitation Services are offered through providers that are contracted by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.

The Australian Disability Supported Employment services are provided through a network of organizations contracted by the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.

The Australian Disability Employment Network is a network of service provider organizations contracted by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.

Disability Employment Services (DES) provides support for people with disability, injury or health condition.

In some cases, specialist help is needed to find and maintain sustainable work. If you are seeking a referral to DES you should get in touch with Centrelink or visit your local DES provider. Click here Find a DES Provider to search for DES providers in your local area.

Job Services Australia helps people find a job.

It also provides you with support to keep your job. If you are eligible for the service provided by Job Services Australia, you will be allocated a Provider. Your Provider will chat to you about your current skills and the type of job you are looking for. You can work with your Provider to identify your training needs to better improve your employment options.

The Remote Jobs and Communities Program (RJCP) provides a streamlined and flexible employment and participation service in remote Australia. It has a strong focus on developing the skills of the local workforce for local jobs and community engagement. The program is delivered by RJCP service providers in each of the 60 remote regions.

Working aged people in receipt of income support payments from Centrelink or CDEP wages are fully eligible for RJCP services. Other people in the community may also participate as community volunteers. For more information on RJCP eligibility, please contact the Employment Services Information Line on 1800 805 260.

  • Since 1993, the labor force participation rate of people with disabilities has fallen, while the rate for people without disabilities has risen.
  • In 2003, 53.2 per cent of people with disabilities participated in the labor force as compared to 80.6 per cent of those without a disability.
  • Fewer people with disabilities participate in the workforce than those without disabilities. More people with disabilities are unemployed than those without disabilities.
  • Income varies according to the type of disability. For example, the income of people with sensory and mobility disabilities is higher than that of people with psychiatric disabilities.
  • Participation in the workforce also varies according to the nature of the disability. The workplace participation rate for people with a psychiatric disability receiving disability support payments is only 29%.
  • Women with disabilities are less likely to be in the workforce than men with disabilities. In addition, the unemployment rate of women with disabilities has increased in the last five years while that for women without disabilities has decreased significantly.
  • The overall levels of income earned by people with disabilities are also lower than those without disabilities. In 2003, the median gross personal income per week of people of working age with a disability was $255, compared to $501 for those without a disability.
  • When employed, people with disabilities earn lower wages, on average, than workers without disabilities. Having a disability reduced the average gross weekly wages of females by $110 (24 per cent) and males by $105 (17 per cent) in 1998, compared with people without disabilities.



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