Graduates With Disability

What is ‘Disability’?

Disability is part of life for around one in five Australians, and can result from accident, illness, congenital or genetic disorders. There are many different kinds of disability – physical, intellectual or mental health related, such as depression or anxiety. A disability may be visible or hidden, permanent or temporary, and may have a minimal or substantial impact on a person’s abilities. Specifically, a disability may affect a person’s mobility, or ability to learn or communicate easily.

(Definition courtesy of STEPS Disability Qld Inc. For more information visit

Embarking on your job search can be an exciting and challenging time. People with disability may find the process easier if they are able to effectively and confidently deal with issues related to disclosing disability, negotiating workplace adjustments and flexible work practices with an employer. It’s also useful to have a broad knowledge of anti-discrimination legislation covering disability employment.

Although people with disability make a significant contribution to the Australian workplace, studies have shown that they experience a greater level of unemployment than those without disability. In addition they are more likely to be under-employed or in an area outside their desired career, be working part time or self-employed.

However, evidence suggests that once in employment, they are equally – if not more – productive, take fewer sick days and remain in the job longer than their colleagues without disability. This contradicts many negative stereotypes about disability in employment and shows that there is a strong business case for employing graduates with disability.

Disability employment assistance services

Nationwide federal government programs, such as the Disability Employment Services, provide specialised assistance in areas such as job hunting, résumé writing, disability disclosure, workplace modifications, incentives to employers and on-the-job support.

These services are available to eligible Australians with disability, injury or ill health aged 14 to 65. Further information is available through the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) and Centrelink. You are still eligible to use Disability Employment Services if you are not receiving, or are eligible to receive, a payment from Centrelink.

Australian Network on Disability internship program

The Australian Network on Disability offers a four-week paid internship program called Stepping into… during the winter semester break (June– July) each year. Stepping into… offers positions in a range of academic disciplines and locations.

Assistance with purchasing equipment or modifying the workplace

Assistance is available to pay for workplace modifications (e.g. wheelchair access, specialised computers and software) or Auslan interpreting and training services for eligible employees with disability. The Federal Government also provides incentives for employers to hire people with disabilities, such as assisting with wages and providing options if you cannot work at full wage rates.

(Adapted from GCA’s ‘Careers for Graduates with Disability’ by Graduate Employment Consultant Marayke Jonkers.)

Careers for Graduates with Disability is a helpful resource on issues facing graduates with disability. If you or someone you know has a disability and is a university student, recent graduate or a person with tertiary qualifications seeking to re-enter employment, download a copy below.

Further Resources

Careers for Graduates with Disability

Australian Government/CRS Australia

Australian Government/JobAccess

Australian Human Rights Commission

Australian Network on Disability