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ARCHIVE: Employment of people with disability in the APS

Executive summary

Employing people with disability makes business sense (Chapter 1)

Attracting staff in a tight labour market

Providing a work environment which attracts applicants with disability and supports the career aspirations of successful applicants makes good business sense.

It allows agencies to tap a pool of increasingly qualified applicants and encourages a supportive and flexible workplace that is attractive to all applicants.

Compliance with the APS Values

As cogent as the business case is, however, it is not the only imperative. Particularly important in the APS context is the obligation imposed on agency heads and all APS employees to comply with the APS Values.

The APS Values of particular relevance in the present context are those which relate to:

  • providing a workplace that is free from discrimination and which recognises and utilises the diversity of the Australian community it serves
  • promoting equity in employment
  • providing a reasonable opportunity for all eligible members of the community to apply for APS employment
  • making employment decisions based on merit.

Legal compliance

APS agencies, in common with all Australian employers, also have legal obligations under the Workplace Relations Act 1996 and the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 to ensure that, in their employment processes, they do not discriminate against people with disability.

Objectives

The Management Advisory Committee (MAC) has agreed to eight objectives for promoting the employment of people with disability and identified a range of better practice strategies for meeting those objectives. Individual agencies are to pursue those objectives, tailoring strategies to their particular circumstances.

For ease of reference, the objectives and better practice strategies are collated in the section of this report entitled ‘Better Practices to Promote the Employment of People with Disability’.

Cultural Change (Chapter 2)

An important component of any strategy to promote APS employment opportunities for people with disability will be to dispel misconceptions about the capabilities of people with disability and to dispel misconceptions that the APS performance culture cannot accommodate and support the employment of people with disability.

Leadership

The necessary cultural change requires the collective and individual leadership of agency heads and managers. That leadership also requires commitment to practical strategies to address the employment disadvantage people with disability face.

Management

The second step to achieving cultural change—management—requires that agencies ‘mainstream’ those strategies into their organisational policies, guidance material and training programmes, so they are an integral part of day-to-day planning and decision-making.

Assurance

The third step—assurance—effectively uses accountability mechanisms, such as the Australian Public Service Commission’s annual State of the Service Report, to assess agencies’ performance in bringing about that change.

Access to APS employment (Chapter 3)

Compared to other applicants with the same educational qualifications, people with disability are commonly disadvantaged by a lack of accessibility to job advertisements and the recruitment process; employer perceptions of their ability; and a lack of relevant work experience.

Levelling the playing field for people with disability

APS agencies with better outcomes in employing people with disability address this particular disadvantage by developing links with organisations specialising in placing people with disability in employment, including the National Disability Recruitment Coordinator and the Disability Employment Network (formerly known as Disability Open Employment Services). Those organisations identify and support suitably qualified applicants with disability during the recruitment process, including the reasonable adjustments successful applicants with disability require to the workplace.

At the same time, the better performing agencies ensure their recruitment processes are accessible to applicants with disability. This includes accepting applications in different formats; allowing sufficient time for people with disability to lodge applications; and ensuring that selection criteria reflect only the inherent requirements of the position and do not unnecessarily exclude applicants with disability.

Officials procuring the services of recruitment agencies should satisfy themselves that those service providers have appropriate arrangements in place to support and encourage applications from people with disability.

Agencies should also ensure their direct testing arrangements make the reasonable adjustments required by candidates with disability and that delegates and members of selection panels receive appropriate training in their obligations when considering applicants with disability.

Improving access to APS work experience opportunities

Another area of continuing disadvantage for many people with disability is that they are less likely to have access to employment opportunities during their education. As APS merit selection processes involve a comparative assessment of the capacity of applicants against the selection criteria, applicants without prior experience find it more difficult to demonstrate that capacity.

To address that disadvantage, agencies could usefully provide opportunities for people with disability to access training schemes and mentoring arrangements in the APS and, by so doing, better equip people with disability to compete on merit.

Employment of people with intellectual disability

People with intellectual disability experience particular difficulties accessing the APS workforce. Their particular employment disadvantage is acknowledged by the special employment measures under clause 4.2(6)(b)(ii) of the Public Service Commissioner’s Directions 1999. Those measures allow people with intellectual disability to be appointed to the APS without having to compete against applicants who do not have an intellectual disability.

However, they are seldom used and agencies are encouraged to consider whether they can offer more employment opportunities for people with intellectual disability through this avenue.

Supporting APS employees with disability (Chapter 4)

Once appointed to the APS, employees with disability need support to reach their career goals and maximise their effectiveness. The better practice support strategies of the better performing agencies have a number of components.

Making reasonable adjustments

First, agencies’ premises and the work-related communications and information their employees need to carry out their duties are accessible to employees with disability. Agencies are encouraged to undertake an assessment of the access requirements of their staff with disability to ensure the reasonable adjustments they require to premises and to the workplace are being met.

While not necessarily targeting the needs of their employees with disability, the more effective agencies also encourage flexible working arrangements such as home-based work (or ‘teleworking’), job-sharing, part-time work, flexible working hours, and purchased leave arrangements (including 48/52 leave), which incidentally benefit their employees with disability. Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs) can offer a useful vehicle for tailoring a flexible work arrangement that is particularly suited to an employee’s individual needs.

The better performing agencies also provide access to learning and development opportunities relevant to the career goals of employees with disability. Where employees with disability are frustrated in accessing these and other opportunities, the support of an advocate or mentor within the organisation can be valuable.

Supporting managers (Chapter 5)

To reduce the perceived complexity, cost and risk involved in employing people with disability, managers need access to information and support, adequate funding, and appropriate organisational policies.

Reducing the complexity, cost and risk for managers

In some large agencies, specialist disability coordinators provide a central point of support, while in smaller agencies the duties of the position commonly include other workplace diversity and Human Resources (HR) responsibilities. Important to the position’s success, however it is structured, is that it is adequately resourced to find solutions to the needs of employees with disability; has information at hand to answer queries from staff and managers or be in a position to access that information; and be able to work with organisations specialising in placing people with disability. The existence of the position and the services it offers should be publicised to all staff.

A one-stop information shop called JobAccess, incorporating a website and an information line to address the need for specialist information, has been developed by the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (DEWR). It commenced operation on 3 July 2006.

The Australian Public Service Commission also publishes a range of better practice guides on employment-related issues. The Commission will incorporate into those guides advice on specific issues relating to the employment of people with disability that agencies can adopt or modify as they choose.

Agencies should also ensure managers have access to adequate resources to fund the reasonable adjustments required by staff, desirably through a centralised funding source.

There may be times when the productivity of an employee with disability is below that expected due to the effect of his or her disability. In those circumstances there are a number of avenues open to managers including, in the first instance, redesigning the position to promote more effective performance or, in appropriate circumstances, a productivity-based wage assessment if the person is eligible for the Supported Wage System.

Managers play an important role in supporting staff with mental illness in the workplace. But managers, in turn, need information on how to do that effectively. Training programmes, such as the beyondblue National Depression in the Workplace Program, as well as employee assistance programmes and/or expert case managers, help managers (and all staff) identify helpful behaviours to support their colleagues.

Ongoing disability awareness should also be an integral part of the management training, induction sessions and other learning and development activities conducted by agencies.

Monitoring agencies’ performance (Chapter 6)

‘What gets measured, gets valued.’ Thus, measuring agencies’ performance in improving employment opportunities for people with disability will be an important component of any cultural change strategy.

To do that effectively, it is first necessary to establish a ‘base-line’ against which improvements can be demonstrated. However, the limitations of APS data on the numbers of employees reporting a disability make this difficult.

The current situation

APS employment figures are drawn from the Australian Public Service Employment Database (APSED) which, in turn, relies on data from agencies’ HR systems. That data indicates that, at June 2005, people with disability represented 3.8% of ongoing APS employees, down from 6.6% in 1986.

However, the provision of data on disability by APS employees is voluntary. Information from other sources, including focus groups exploring reasons people choose not to disclose their disability status, the staff surveys of some agencies, and the Australian Public Service Commission’s annual State of the Service Employee Survey, indicate the APSED data is under-reporting the actual number of people with disability in the APS.

Nevertheless, the trend is noteworthy. Fewer people with disability are being recruited into the APS, and existing staff with disability are leaving at a faster rate than they are being recruited.

Reasons for decline in numbers of APS staff with disability

The decline has corresponded with APS organisational and structural changes over the past 20 years that have been accompanied by declining numbers of APS 1–2 positions; the outsourcing of corporate services such as mail handling, printing and cleaning; broadbanding and multiskilling; and an emphasis on a more educated workforce. The changes have lifted individual performance and organisational productivity. However, they have come at a cost. Direct APS employment opportunities for groups with lower average skill levels, including some people with an intellectual disability, have greatly reduced, although some have been employed by contractors providing outsourced services to the APS.

At the same time, opportunities for skilled people with disability have also reduced, with declining numbers of employees with disability at all levels in the APS, including Executive Level (EL) and Senior Executive Service (SES) employees.

Defining ‘disability’

One reason for the difficulty in accurately measuring agencies’ performance in employing and retaining people with disability is that agencies presently use differing definitions of ‘disability’ to develop recruitment and retention policies and to collect employee data.

The most appropriate definition for developing APS recruitment and retention policies is the definition of ‘disability’ adopted by the Disability Discrimination Act 1992. However, that definition can be difficult to operationalise in the practical process of data collection. A better choice for data collection purposes is the definition of ‘disability’ adopted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) in its 2003 Disability, Ageing and Carers Survey. That definition provides the basis for the most recent disability data used by analysts in Australia and its comprehensiveness and clarity make it easy to use in practice.

A consistent definition of disability will not, by itself, overcome the under-reporting of disability. People with disability (particularly those with mental illness) can be reluctant to identify themselves as having a disability because of past experience with, or fear of, discrimination. Cultural change that results in a more accepting and supportive environment for employees with disability should result in greater self- reporting over time.

In the meantime, a clear written statement about why personal and employment data (including data on disability) is being collected and how it will be used will go some way to addressing the existing concerns of people with disability around disclosure.

Measuring progress

Agencies are to demonstrate continuous improvement in recruiting and retaining people with disability, against the performance indicators that are most appropriate to it.

Reporting progress

As regular reporting plays an important role in achieving cultural change, agencies are to report annually on their success in meeting the goal of continuous improvement via the annual State of the Service Agency Survey and State of the Service Report.

In light of the outcomes of the 2008–09 State of the Service Report, the Management Advisory Committee will, at that time, review agencies’ progress in meeting that goal.

Better practices to promote the employment of people with disability

Objective 1: A culture that values diversity and actively promotes the employment of people with disability.

Members of the Management Advisory Committee are committed to taking a leading role in:

  • promoting their agency as one committed to upholding the APS Values of providing a workplace free from discrimination and promoting equity in employment
  • promoting the APS performance culture and the APS merit and community access values as complementary in supporting the employment of people with disability
  • highlighting the business case for recruiting and retaining employees with disability
  • mainstreaming policies and procedures to encourage the recruitment and retention of people with disability by integrating them into the day-to-day business planning processes of the agency
  • establishing clear expectations of managers and senior executives in developing a diverse workforce
  • reporting on progress in developing that diverse workforce.1

Objective 2: Flexible recruitment strategies that are accessible to applicants with disability.

Better practice strategies individual agencies will consider in meeting this objective include:

  • developing closer links with organisations specialising in placing people with disability in employment, including the National Disability Recruitment Coordinator and the Disability Employment Network
  • accepting applications in different formats and giving people with disability reasonable time to lodge applications
  • ensuring selection criteria reflect only the inherent requirements of positions, and that methods of selection do not indirectly discriminate against applicants with disability
  • ensuring recruitment agencies contracted by APS agencies encourage and support applicants with disability
  • making reasonable adjustments to direct testing arrangements required by applicants with disability
  • ensuring delegates and selection panels are cognisant of the diverse needs of applicants with disability.2

In addition:

The Australian Public Service Commission will develop guidance for job seekers on selection processes in the APS, including addressing selection criteria. The material will be widely publicised to disability networks and recruitment agencies.

The Australian Public Service Commission will also explore the possibility of enabling APS vacancies advertised in the Australian Public Service Gazette to be downloaded by the National Disability Recruitment Coordinator to distribute through its networks to prospective candidates with disability.

The Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaCSIA) will review the current Commonwealth Disability Strategy framework on employment to ensure performance measures for outsourced recruitment processes are appropriate to encourage and support applicants with disability.

Objective 3: Accessible training, cadetship and mentoring opportunities for people with disability.

Better practice strategies individual agencies will consider in meeting this objective include:

  • establishing training schemes to provide work experience that will assist people with disability to compete in merit-based APS selection processes
  • participating in mentoring programmes such as the Willing and Able Mentoring

Program in order to identify appropriate mentors for students with disability interested in a career in the APS.3

Objective 4: Special employment measures to employ people with intellectual disability.

Better practice strategies individual agencies will consider in meeting this objective include:

  • incorporating strategies to employ people with intellectual disability by utilising the special employment measures (under clause 4.2(6)(b)(ii) of the Public Service Commissioner’s Directions 1999), redesigning jobs and accessing the provisions of the Supported Wage System where appropriate
  • using organisations such as the National Disability Recruitment Coordinator and/ or the Disability Employment Network to assist agencies to design appropriate positions, develop the selection criteria for such positions, identify suitable applicants, ready the workplace and provide long-term, on-the-job training and support to successful applicants.4

The Public Service Commissioner, in consultation with other relevant agencies, will issue a circular to advise agencies about the availability of the existing special employment measures to raise awareness and usage.

Objective 5: Accessible premises, workplaces and supportive work environments for people with disability.

Better practice strategies individual agencies will consider in meeting this objective include:

  • Accessible premises
    • ensuring new premises and modifications to existing premises are readily accessible by people with disability
    • undertaking an assessment of the accessibility of existing premises to identify and prioritise modifications or additions needed to ensure an accessible work environment.
  • Accessible workplaces
    • identifying, in consultation with new employees with disability and with the assistance of organisations such as the National Disability Recruitment Coordinator and/or the Disability Employment Network, the reasonable adjustments required by new employees with disability, before the new employees commence duty
    • undertaking, in consultation with employees with disability, and with the assistance of organisations such as the Disability Employment Network and/or the National Disability Recruitment Coordinator, an assessment of the reasonable adjustments required by existing employees with disability
    • using the Assistive Technology for Employees of Australian Government, Better Practice Checklist No. 22,5 in designing e-government initiatives.
  • Flexible work practices
    • incorporating in collective agreements and workplace diversity programmes flexible work practices that allow all employees, including employees with disability, to achieve an appropriate work–life balance
    • offering AWAs to employees with disability that tailor flexible work arrangements on an individual basis. Agencies could seek advice and assistance from the Office of the Employment Advocate in designing appropriate AWAs
    • centralising, within agencies, funds to make reasonable adjustments to the workplace and provide adaptive technology for employees with disability attending learning and development activities
    • supporting the higher education aspirations of employees with disability
    • developing networks for employees with disability
    • identifying an SES officer to act as a senior-level advocate for employees with disability.6

The Department of Finance and Administration (Finance) is encouraged to review the Government Information Technology Contractual Framework Version 4 to ensure the contractual obligations on contractors to provide accessible information technology (IT) systems are adequate.

Objective 6: Reduced complexity, cost and risk for managers employing people with disability.

Better practice strategies individual agencies will consider in meeting this objective include:

  • developing a source of information and expertise within the agency to assist managers and employees, or ready access to external sources of information and assistance
  • integrating that expertise, including the services of any disability coordinators and/or case managers, into performance and other management practices
  • adequately funding reasonable adjustments in the workplace, through centralised funding arrangements as well as the Workplace Modification Scheme
  • ensuring adaptive technology and other portable reasonable adjustments made for employees with disability are transferable within the agency and, to the greatest extent possible, transferable to other APS agencies
  • providing training and awareness programmes for managers and other APS employees on mental illness, depression or related disorders through organisations such as beyondblue and the Mental Health Council of Australia
  • participating in networks such as the Australian Employers’ Network on Disability.7

DEWR is encouraged to incorporate in the one-stop information shop, JobAccess, information that is relevant to the APS employment of people with disability.

The Australian Public Service Commission received funding for a case study evaluation of approaches to the recruitment and management of people with disability in the 2006–07 Budget. It will develop a good practice guide aimed at increasing the participation of people with disability in APS employment as an outcome of that evaluation.

The Australian Public Service Commission will also incorporate better practice guidance material addressing the particular needs of people with disability in recruitment, retention and performance management processes into existing APS publications and resources such as the Get it Right recruitment kit for managers.

Objective 7: Consistent conceptual framework for defining disability.

To ensure a consistent whole-of-government approach, all APS agencies are to:

  • adopt the definition of ‘disability’ in section 4 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 for developing their recruitment and retention strategies relating to the employment of people with disability
  • adopt the definition of ‘disability’ used by the ABS Disability, Ageing and Carers: Summary of Findings 2003 survey to collect data and statistics from APS employees
  • use the questions identified in Chapter 6 of this report to collect data from their employees, and to actively encourage employees to provide this data.

When seeking personal and employment data (including disability data) from employees, APS agencies should provide a written statement, of the kind required by Information Privacy Principle 2 in section 14 of the Privacy Act 1988, about why the information is being collected and how it will be used.

Agencies should follow up each employee who reports a disability in order to identify the reasonable adjustments they may need.8

Objective 8: Continuous improvement in recruiting and retaining people with disability.

The Australian Public Service Commission will continue to survey agencies and APS employees on issues relating to disability in the State of the Service Agency and Employee Surveys.

The Public Service Commissioner will continue to report on the recruitment and retention of employees with disability in the State of the Service Report.

In light of the outcomes of the 2008–09 State of the Service Report, the Management Advisory Committee, through the Australian Public Service Commission, will review the achievements and progress of APS agencies at that time.9

Chapter 1 Employing people with disability makes business sense

The Australian Government’s 2002 Intergenerational Report10 highlights the need for higher workforce participation to maintain Australia’s high living standards as working age population numbers decline. That report, and subsequent Productivity Commission projections,11 stress Australia is on the verge of a sustained tightening of labour supply.

These trends increase competition among employers for entrants to the Australian labour force.12 Managing and Sustaining the APS Workforce acknowledged the challenge the APS is already facing in attracting and retaining staff in a tighter labour market.13

Candidates with disability are an increasingly valuable labour resource in that changing environment14 and the APS could usefully become an employer of choice to differentiate itself from other employers and attract talented candidates with disability.

1.1. Attracting staff in a tight labour market

Employers of choice offer, among other things, a supportive work environment and flexible work arrangements that encourage all employees to meet their full career potential and an appropriate work–life balance. These are the same flexibilities that ensure an accessible workplace for people with disability.

The benefits for employers who introduce these flexibilities are twofold. First, they encourage the employment of qualified employees with disability. Second, their employment encourages the perception of a supportive and flexible workplace that, in turn, encourages the employment of those who may not have a disability.

At the same time, the policy setting has never been more favourable for encouraging the employment of people with disability. To lift workforce participation, reduce welfare dependency and maintain a strong safety net for those who need it, the 2005–06 Budget introduced the Welfare to Work reforms, comprehensively reforming the welfare system for working age Australians. Those reforms assist people with disability on income support, who can do part-time work, to look for it.

The Australian Government’s recent workplace relations reforms (WorkChoices) also offer more choice and greater flexibility to both employers and employees (including employees with disability) to design workplace agreements that best suit the needs and aspirations of both.

To best use that favourable policy setting requires a culture that no longer accepts the old way of looking at disability, but rather acknowledges that employing people with disability makes good business sense.

1.2. Compliance with the APS Values

Of particular importance, also, in the APS context is the obligation imposed on APS employees by the APS Values15 and Code of Conduct16 to pursue appropriate employment policies and practices.

The provision of a workplace that is free from discrimination, and which recognises and utilises the diversity of the Australian community it serves, is one of the key Values underpinning the APS employment framework.17

Other Values underpinning the APS employment framework are that the APS:

  • is a public service in which employment decisions are based on merit18
  • promotes equity in employment19
  • provides a reasonable opportunity to all eligible members of the community to apply for APS employment.20

The APS Values reflect public expectations of the relationship between public servants and the Government, the Parliament and the Australian community. They articulate the culture and operating ethos of the APS.

The Code of Conduct complements the Values by setting the standard of conduct required of APS employees. The Code requires, among other things, that APS employees behave in a way that upholds the APS Values21 and that agency heads and members of the SES promote them.22 The Values are not simply aspirational statements of intent; they are legal requirements. Failure to uphold them and comply with the Code may attract sanctions. 23

Together, these Values, and the requirement that a person exercising powers under the Public Service Act must do so without patronage or favouritism, form the basis for all APS engagement and promotion decisions.

The Values are not mutually exclusive. In particular, engagement and promotion processes can and should be conducted in a way that is merit-based, but also in a way that is non-discriminatory, is representative of the diverse Australian community, promotes employment equity, and encourages all eligible members of the community (including those with disability) to apply.

The more representative the APS workforce is of the community, the more likely it is APS programmes and services will be inclusive and responsive to that community. Employing a person with disability helps create a culture of inclusion in an organisation, which in turn generates a greater awareness on the part of all employees of the needs of clients with disability or those requiring special assistance. For APS agencies, establishing a workforce that reflects all potential clients (including almost four million Australians from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds) makes good business sense.24

1.3. Legal compliance

Of importance, also, to the role of the APS as an institution, is the obligation on APS employees under the Code of Conduct to comply with all applicable Australian laws.25 This includes the obligation to comply with the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and the Workplace Relations Act 1996.

APS agencies, in common with all Australian employers, have a legal responsibility under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 to ensure that, in their employment processes, they do not discriminate against people with disability.26 Employers also have a legal obligation under that Act to make reasonable adjustments to the workplace to overcome any barrier the work situation poses to equal opportunity, equal participation or equal performance by someone with disability.

Between 1998–99 and 2004–05, 424 complaints against APS agencies in the area of employment were made to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) under the Disability Discrimination Act.27 During this period, more than 50 complaints were made each year, peaking at 75 complaints in 2001–02. Each complaint imposed significant legal and administrative costs, as well as reputational costs, on agencies.

The Workplace Relations Act 1996 also protects workers against discrimination on the basis of, among other things, physical or mental disability.28

Complying with those legal obligations, in order to avoid costly discrimination lawsuits and damage to reputations that can result from those actions, makes good business sense.29

1.4. Tapping a pool of qualified applicants

Currently, a proportion of the Australian population with disability is not being fully utilised as a resource with skills and knowledge available to the workforce.30

  • Almost four million Australians (or 20% of the total population) identified as having a disability in the ABS 2003 Disability, Ageing and Carers Survey.31 Of those, more than 100,000 were unemployed.
  • At June 2005, 707,000 people were receiving a Disability Support Pension.
  • At December 2005, there were around 125,000 job seekers with disability on the active Job Network caseload.
  • At least 4000 to 6000 people with disability nationally, are, at any one time, ready for work and are on the programmes managed by the Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service (CRS).32

The numbers of higher education students with disability have also increased33 but, again, their potential has not been fully recognised. The Graduate Careers Council of Australia’s 2004 Graduate Destination Survey revealed that four months after graduation, only 37.8% of students with disability, who were available for work, were in full-time employment, compared with 53.8% of bachelor’s degree graduates without disability.34 The situation is similar for students completing vocational education and training.35

Benefits and costs of employing people with disability

While people with disability are available to the workforce, myths and misconceptions about the potential contribution of employees with disability and the costs associated with their employment can limit their career opportunities.

The only authoritative large-scale study of benefits and costs to employers of employing a person with disability is that conducted by Graffam et al. It involved more than 650 Australian employers who had employed a person with disability through a funded disability employment service. While that study rated employees with disability lower than average employees on productivity factors (that is, speed and accuracy), it rated them higher than average employees on reliability factors (that is, attendance and sick leave) and employee maintenance factors (that is, recruitment, occupational health and safety (OHS), compensation, and insurance costs).36

The outcome for an employer employing a person with disability, according to Graffam et al, ‘is generally a reasonably productive, very reliable employee who costs marginally less to maintain in employment’.37

Other studies have also shown the costs of workplace modifications, specialised equipment and training or other extra arrangements are not high and tend to be ‘one-off’ outlays.38 In any event, some costs are associated with the employment of any new employee.

Moreover, the study by Graffam et al found workplace modifications and changes to staff training and supervision made for the employee with disability result in benefits to productivity, staff skills and practices, and workplace and customer relations for the entire organisation. Three possible reasons identified by the study for those benefits are:

  • integrating an employee into the workplace raises awareness of previously less than optimal working conditions, including training and supervisory practices, basic work practices and health and safety issues
  • improved co-worker and customer relations contribute to morale and improved performance within the organisation as a whole
  • the individual performance of an employee with disability may raise expectations and performance standards for all employees, thereby improving the entire organisation’s performance.

Whatever the reason, an employee with disability can be a catalyst for positive change and for improved organisational performance.39

That is not to deny that in some cases the nature of an employee’s disability can have an adverse impact on the workplace. However, the better practice approaches for supporting staff with disability, outlined in this report, can assist agencies in limiting those impacts.

Chapter 2 Cultural change

APS organisational and structural changes over the past two decades have been characterised by the devolution of management responsibility and employer powers to individual agency heads; increasing contestability of public services; a greater emphasis on innovation and service delivery; and increased demands for flexibility, responsiveness and performance improvement.40 The resulting performance culture in this environment places increased importance on individual and agency performance and productivity.

According to APS managers consulted during this review, that performance culture requires them to demonstrate they can ‘do more with less’, and requires staff ‘who are able to give 150%’. As a result, many managers are reluctant to accept the risk that a person with disability may not achieve the same outputs as a person without disability.

2.1 Dispelling misconceptions APS performance culture cannot embrace diversity

2.1.1 The APS performance culture

The misconception that people with disability cannot fulfil the obligations imposed by the APS performance culture is a significant barrier to APS employment opportunities for people with disability. It fails to acknowledge that employing people with disability is an investment organisations make in people for sound business reasons.

Thus, an important component of any strategy to promote employment opportunities for people with disability in the APS will be to dispel misconceptions about the capabilities of people with disability and to dispel misconceptions that the APS performance culture cannot accommodate and support their employment.

2.1.2 APS Merit Value

Central to APS employment is the Merit Value:

The APS is a public service in which employment decisions are based on merit.41

Merit has been important in establishing the APS performance culture. Engagements made on merit and open to competition from outside the APS have contributed to the growing professionalism of the APS. APS employment opportunities filled by engagements have increased from 33.7% in 1995–96 to 47.6% in 2004–05.42

2.1.3 The merit selection process

Under the Public Service Act,43 a merit-based decision relating to engagement or promotion requires an assessment of the relative suitability of candidates for the duties of a position, using a competitive selection process, where:

  1. the assessment is based on the relationship between the candidates’ work-related qualities and the work-related qualities genuinely required for the duties
  2. the assessment focuses on the relative capacity of the candidates to achieve outcomes related to the duties
  3. the assessment is the primary consideration in making the decision.44

Significantly, ‘relative suitability’ is subject to interpretation, depending on the perspective of those tasked to make a recommendation to the agency head. The view of a selection committee (where formed), that does not include people with disability or people who are ‘disability aware’, can be limited by the qualities committee members see in themselves and limited to the manner in which they achieve the outcomes demanded of the position. This narrowing of perspective can deny outcomes that can be achieved by other means.

It can also fail to contemplate the ‘reasonable adjustments’ that Australia’s anti-discrimination legislation has long recognised as necessary to foster a workplace free from discrimination. The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 requires employers (including the APS) to make reasonable adjustments to selection processes, workplaces and work methods, that will enable applicants with disability to demonstrate they have the work-related qualities genuinely required for the position.45 That obligation is not intended to ‘advantage’ applicants with disability or require that the selection process be undertaken other than on merit. The comparative assessment on merit remains. Applicants with disability are simply afforded a level playing field.

What is needed is to acknowledge that the existing APS performance culture does embrace disability and, indeed, diversity in all its forms.

2.2 what it takes to achieve cultural change

The steps to embed that culture are those identified by the Australian Public Service Commission’s publication, Embedding the APS Values, namely: commitment, management and assurance.46

2.2.1 Commitment (or ‘leadership’)

Leadership

It is not easy to change culture. The collective and individual leadership of agency heads and managers is the first step. Organisations successful in developing a culture which recognises the contribution of people with disability (including IBM and Telstra) demonstrate that change only happens when it is led by the head of the organisation.

Agency heads have successfully encouraged and established the APS performance culture. They have an equally valuable role in communicating to their organisation, particularly managers, how that culture embraces diversity.

At its most effective, the message would be twofold. First, it would promote the business benefits to the agency of employing people with disability. Second, it would commit the agency to take a concerted approach in upholding the APS Values of a workplace free from discrimination and promoting equity in employment for people with disability.

Supporting package of measures

The APS-specific Senior Executive Leadership Capability Framework acknowledges the importance of modelling the APS Values. However, modelling alone is not enough. APS agencies that have been more successful in employing people with disability demonstrate that leadership needs to be accompanied by a commitment to practical strategies to address the employment disadvantage people with disability face.

The more effective practical strategies are outlined in Chapters 3, 4 and 5 of this report. They are collated in the section entitled ‘Better Strategies to Promote the Employment of People with Disability.’

2.2.2 Management (or ‘mainstreaming’)

The second step to achieving cultural change—management—is to mainstream policies promoting the employment of people with disability into an agency’s organisational policies, guidance material and training programmes, so that they are an integral part of day-to-day planning and decision-making.

Mainstreaming

Virtually all agencies have workplace diversity programmes47 and many also have disability action plans. At their most effective, these programmes and plans are integral to the way the agency operates. Stand-alone workplace diversity programmes and disability action plans that are seen as the responsibility of HR staff and that staff refer to only when a ‘disability’ issue arises are less effective.

An evaluation of workplace diversity programmes carried out by the Australian Public Service Commission in 2004–05 found that, while people with disability were one of the two groups most frequently addressed in workplace diversity programmes, with specific measures included to address their employment and retention, there was no clear correlation between those measures and increased representation for people with disability. However, there was a link between the overall quality of the workplace diversity programme and Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) representation.48

This suggests that strategies developed under programmes to promote the employment of all EEO groups (including people with disability) should be hardwired into the materials all staff have resort to in their day-to-day activities, including agencies’ human resource policies, corporate plans, collective agreements, AWAs and Chief Executive Instructions (ceIs).

Kick-starting cultural change

The results of the evaluation also suggest that a broad approach to workplace diversity may have come at the expense of specific strategies aimed at particular EEO groups.

This does not mean the broad approach to workplace diversity should be abandoned. However, a particular focus on strategies to address the employment disadvantage of people with disability would be appropriate, as part of a concerted programme to kick-start cultural change.

Training

Training is also a valuable component of any cultural change programme. Cultural change cannot be achieved simply through training; however, training can instil an awareness of how the APS employment framework differs from that of the general workforce. Training can also promote an understanding of how merit embraces diversity, and offer examples of how that can be achieved in real life situations.

Under the devolved APS employment framework, individual agencies are responsible for tailoring their training programmes to their individual needs. As much of the content is common across agencies, the Australian Public Service Commission has also developed better practice guides and training materials that agencies can access and modify to their own circumstances as they choose.

The Australian Public Service Commission and individual agencies are encouraged to review their existing training programmes and materials to ensure they ‘mainstream’ issues that are particular to the employment of people with disability. For example, the Commission’s training materials for embedding the APS Values, Values Resources for Facilitators: Being Professional in the Australian Public Service, could be supplemented with scenarios raising issues around the employment of people with disability and the application of the APS Values to those scenarios.

The training materials could also usefully incorporate workshops that help participants identify their personal values and recognise how these affect their attitude towards people with disability. Such workshops should involve the participation of people with disability, where possible.

2.2.3 Assurance (or ‘accountability’)

The third step in achieving cultural change—assurance—is to effectively use accountability mechanisms to assess the performance of agencies and all APS employees in bringing about that change.

Cultural change requires that words espousing values such as commitment to a diverse workforce be matched by corresponding action: management should not say it values one thing while it measures and rewards something else. Presently, it is clear to managers that performance is valued and rewarded. It is less clear to them, however, that their endeavours to develop a diverse workforce will be equally valued.

Thus, leadership could be reinforced by embedding obligations to develop a diverse workforce into individual development plans, performance appraisal arrangements, collective agreements and AWAs. This will give a consistent message that behaviour in accordance with the Values is expected and will be rewarded.

Agencies’ performance will continue to be monitored through the State of the Service Report.49 Quality assurance mechanisms, such as staff surveys, could also be used to monitor agency performance in becoming a ‘disability confident’ workplace.

2.2.4 ‘Disability confident’ agencies

Undertaking a change programme of this kind takes time (at least three years in IBM’s experience).

The aim is to create a ‘disability confident’ APS that will:

  • view people with disability as important stakeholders in the Australian community the APS serves
  • naturally include people with disability as part of a truly diverse workforce
  • no longer accept the old way of looking at disability—which often results in discrimination because of assumptions about what people with disability can and cannot do
  • acknowledge that employing people with disability makes good business sense
  • be skilled in making reasonable adjustments and be more responsive to the abilities and potential contribution of every employee.50

Chapter 3 Access to APS employment

People with disability have difficulty accessing the open employment market,51 including positions in the APS.52 Compared to other applicants with the same educational qualifications, people with disability commonly are disadvantaged by the lack of accessibility of job advertisements and the recruitment process; employer perceptions of their ability; and a lack of demonstrated experience in the workplace.

The APS could do more to develop strategies to address this particular disadvantage. In 2004–05, 80% of agencies reported using at least one measure to attract people with disability (compared to 85% in 2003–04).53 In 2004–05, while most agencies reported using a combination of strategies to facilitate the recruitment of people with disability, 17 agencies did not have any strategies in place.54

In the 2006–07 Budget, the Australian Public Service Commission received funding for a case study evaluation of strategies for the recruitment and management of people with disability. A good practice guide aimed at increasing the participation of people with disability in APS employment will be developed as an outcome of the evaluation.

Strategies are desirable in three areas. First, to level the playing field for people with disability. People with disability are not asking to compete other than on merit. However, to allow them to effectively compete, the merit selection process needs to be accessible to them.

Second, strategies need to deal with the restricted access people with disability have to employment opportunities during their education. Merit selection processes commonly compare the prior work experience of applicants when assessing their demonstrated capacity against the selection criteria. Strategies to provide opportunities for people with disability to access training schemes and mentoring arrangements in the APS could provide work experience opportunities and better equip people with disability to compete on merit.

Third, strategies could address the particular difficulties people with intellectual disability experience in accessing the workforce.

3.1 Levelling the playing field for people with disability

The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission’s 2005 National Inquiry into Employment and Disability found people with disability commonly experience discrimination at all stages of the recruitment process, from advertisement to selection.55

Data from the 2005 State of the Service Agency Survey suggests the same may be true of APS selection processes. Significantly fewer employees with disability applied for other jobs in the APS in the last 12 months. Of those who did apply, 89% applied for promotion; 22% of these applicants with disability were successful, compared to 37% of applicants without disability.56 The reasons for these different outcomes are unclear. The difference could be due to the level of education of applicants with disability. On the other hand, it could be due to the training and development opportunities given to applicants with disability or difficulties they experience during the selection process.

Common barriers people with disability experience in negotiating the APS selection processes include the absence of the support of organisations specialising in placing people with disability in employment; inaccessible job advertisements, forms of application and timeframes; selection criteria that go beyond the inherent requirements of the job; and the perceived discriminatory actions and views of some recruitment agencies, assessment centres and selection panels.

3.1.1 Developing relationships with organisations specialising in placing people with disability in employment

APS agencies with better outcomes in employing people with disability have developed relationships with organisations specialising in placing people with disability in employment, including the Disability Employment Network, the National Disability Recruitment Coordinator, strategic service providers, disability liaison officers in universities and advocacy groups, to:

  • market the APS as an employer of choice for people with disability
  • support people with disability applying for APS positions
  • assist agencies in identifying the reasonable adjustments that will be required to the recruitment procedures to address the needs of individual applicants with disability
  • increase the understanding among people with disability of the requirements of the APS.

The Disability Employment Network57 is the collective name for specialist disability employment services. They provide specialist assistance to job seekers with disability (permanent or likely to be permanent), who need ongoing support to gain and maintain employment.58 Their members throughout Australia are funded by the Australian Government (through DEWR) on the basis of the number of job seekers they assist, the amount of assistance required and the number of job seekers successfully placed in employment.59

The National Disability Recruitment Coordinator is funded by DEWR to provide employers with access to a single, free, effective contact point for recruiting people with disability.60 The current National Disability Recruitment Coordinator (until 31 December 2006 when a new tender is to be let) is Disability Works Australia. In this role, Disability Works Australia effectively acts as a ‘broker’ between the Disability Employment Network and employers. Where applicants with disability are not clients of these organisations or where services required are outside those covered by the contract with DEWR, employers fund these organisations on a user-pays basis.

The types of services the National Disability Recruitment Coordinator offers employers can most easily be described by outlining their role in the 2006 graduate recruitment process undertaken by the ACT Government.

ACT Government’s 2006 graduate recruitment process

  1. The advertisement for ACT graduate positions encouraged persons with disability to apply and to contact Disability Works Australia to access an alternative application process. ‘Online’ advertisements incorporated links to Disability Works Australia’s website. Disability Works Australia also distributed the advertisements through its own networks, encouraging the Disability Employment Network (then known as Disability Open Employment Services) to identify suitably qualified applicants.
  2. Disability Works Australia interviewed each applicant with disability and prepared profiles of suitably qualified candidates, outlining the reasonable adjustments they needed to the recruitment processes and the workplace modifications they would require, if successful. A Disability Works Australia representative also attended the assessment centre to address any unanticipated accessibility issues that might arise during the recruitment procedures.
  3. The outcome of the process was that applicants with disability supported by the National Disability Recruitment Coordinator successfully competed, on merit, with applicants without disability.

Other services the National Disability Recruitment Coordinator and the Disability Employment Network provide include developing appropriate job descriptions that are accessible to people with disability; and providing training, information and awareness-raising activities for co-workers of successful applicants with disability.

DEWR used the services of the National Disability Recruitment Coordinator in its 2006 graduate recruitment programme. Other employers to use the services of the National Disability Recruitment Coordinator in recruitment processes, and to develop strategies to increase the level of their employment of people with disability, include the South Australian, Northern Territory and Victorian Governments; Coles Myer Ltd; National Australia Bank; ANZ Bank; Woolworths; and Australia Post. Memoranda of Understanding between the National Disability Recruitment Coordinator and individual employers establish the boundaries of each relationship.

Other APS agencies, including FaCSIA, have used the services of private organisations known as strategic service providers, including Diversity@Work Australia Incorporated, to provide best practice advice in developing strategies to improve the employment of people with disability.

In 2004–05, 26% of APS agencies reported they worked with organisations specialising in placing people with disability in employment.61 More extensive use of their services, either in consultation with agencies’ own recruitment staff or contracted recruitment suppliers, would assist agencies in implementing best practice arrangements that allow people with disability to compete on merit and facilitate cultural change.

3.1.2 Accessible job advertisements

APS agencies electing not to use the support of organisations specialising in placing people with disability in employment, need to ensure their recruitment processes are accessible to people with disability.

People with disability (particularly those with a visual or other disability that makes it difficult to access print or online advertisements available only in pdf format) often rely on their own networks to learn of vacancies. Failing to advertise through these avenues restricts APS employment opportunities for people with disability, but also narrows the prospective field of qualified applicants.

A solution adopted by some employers, including the Victorian Government under its Memorandum of Understanding with the National Disability Recruitment Coordinator, Disability Works Australia, is to distribute all vacancies via Disability Works Australia’s employment register of clients with disability.

To assist the National Disability Recruitment Coordinator in distributing APS vacancies through its networks to prospective candidates, the Australian Public Service Commission will explore the possibility of putting in place arrangements to allow the coordinator to download the Australian Public Service Gazette.

3.1.3 Accessible forms of application and time frames

People with disability, in common with many in the community, have difficulty addressing APS selection criteria. These difficulties are exacerbated when a person’s disability limits their ability to respond within a limited time frame or in the format required.

Agencies and their contact officers are encouraged to be flexible in accepting applications in different formats from people with disability (including, where appropriate, oral applications) and in extending time to lodge applications.

The Australian Public Service Commission will develop guidance for all job seekers on selection processes in the APS, including addressing selection criteria. This material will provide advice to applicants with disability about the flexibilities they can request when applying for APS positions, such as: extensions of time; the provision of selection criteria in alternative formats; and submitting applications in other than written form. The material will be widely publicised to disability networks and recruitment agencies.

3.1.4 Selection criteria limited to the inherent requirements of the job

Agencies are making increasing use of competency frameworks to promote multiskilling of staff and increase staffing flexibility. However, where those frameworks result in very broad selection criteria which require applicants to demonstrate capabilities a position may not require, they prevent people with disability from demonstrating their ability to satisfy the inherent requirements of the job. They discourage applications from suitably qualified applicants with disability, who cannot objectively determine whether they could meet the inherent requirements of the position.

The Get it Right recruitment kit for managers, developed by the Australian Public Service Commission, can assist agencies to identify the appropriate skills and personal qualities required for a particular position. It is likely there are some jobs for which the inherent requirements are such that people with certain disabilities will not qualify. They should, however, be the exception rather than the rule.

3.1.5 Recruitment agencies

APS agencies are outsourcing more aspects of the recruitment process to recruitment agencies. Nearly one in four agencies use recruitment agencies for the entire process, including the recommendation to the delegate. Their use peaks in large agencies, with nearly half using recruitment agencies for their whole process in some APS 1–6 selections and in around a quarter of EL selections in 2004–05.62

Presently, contracts to procure recruitment services generally require that recruitment agencies comply with legal anti-discrimination obligations, including the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and the Commonwealth Disability Strategy.

However, many of those consulted during this review expressed concern that short- listing strategies used by recruitment agencies exclude people with disability from the short list for APS positions.

Officials procuring the services of recruitment agencies should satisfy themselves that those procurement arrangements meet the legislative and policy obligations applicable to that procurement and do not discriminate against applicants with disability.63

Some better performing agencies assess the measures tenderers have in place to support the employment of people with disability, including measures tenderers have in place to employ a diverse workforce of their own, before letting tenders.

However, few agencies consulted reported they imposed express contractual obligations on recruitment agencies to support and encourage applications from people with disability. Agencies could consider express contractual obligations of this sort including, for example, that recruitment agencies advertise vacancies through the National Disability Recruitment Coordinator.

To ensure sufficient prominence is given to the obligation to support and encourage applications from people with disability, FaCSIA will review the current Commonwealth Disability Strategy framework on employment to ensure performance measures for outsourced recruitment processes are appropriate.

3.1.6 Assessment centres

The use of assessment centres, psychometric testing and direct testing to assess applicants varies between agencies. The processes are more often used by large agencies. In 2004–05, over three-quarters of large, 46% of medium and 37% of small agencies used direct testing to assess required workplace skills in some APS 1–6 selection exercises.64

Once short-listed, the performance of people with disability under those direct testing arrangements depends on the extent to which reasonable adjustments are made to those arrangements to counter any disadvantage their disability may present; 49% of agencies reported they made appropriate accommodations to testing situations in 2004–05.65 Concern about a lack of reasonable adjustments in direct testing situations was also raised in focus group discussions. As one focus group participant outlined:

Assessment centres don’t accommodate for people with vision impairments. My applications against the selection criteria were successful but when I had to attend an assessment centre there was no reasonable adjustment made. I had to complete selection tests in the same time as other candidates. I would only get half as far because it takes me longer to read. Whenever I had to undertake this testing I failed to get a job.

Most applicants with disability will not require significant adjustments and those that are required need not be expensive to implement. They can be as simple as allowing an applicant with a visual disability more time to complete assessment centre tests, or ensuring that the testing centre is accessible to persons using a wheelchair so that the assessment does not have to be conducted in the carpark!66 Or they can extend to arrangements (adopted by the ACT Government in its 2006 graduate recruitment programme) encouraging applicants to disclose their disability and access an alternative application process.

Agencies which do not secure the assistance of the National Disability Recruitment Coordinator should ensure their direct testing arrangements, or those conducted by contracted recruitment providers, make the necessary reasonable adjustments required by applicants with disability.

3.1.7 Selection panels

People with disability consulted in the course of this review reported they continue to be judged according to their disability and not their ability.67 The experience of some was that interviewers focused on the obstacles that need to be addressed in employing someone with disability, instead of acknowledging their qualifications and expertise and focusing on how to facilitate their contribution to the workplace.

This perception is not surprising given that two-thirds of agencies responding to the 2005 State of the Service Agency Survey reported they did not provide training for interviewers on appropriate interviewing methods for people with disability.68

Agencies are encouraged to review their training arrangements to ensure interviewers receive appropriate training, including training on their obligations in considering applicants with disability.

3.2 Improving access to APS work experience opportunities

Many people with disability experience difficulties in gaining employment during their studies, which inhibits their ability to demonstrate their capacity to carry out the duties of APS positions.

Providing opportunities to appropriately qualified applicants with disability to access training opportunities and work experience in the APS, and allow them to develop that practical experience in conjunction with their studies, addresses the disadvantage some people with disability experience in not otherwise being able to access work experience opportunities. At the same time, it also affords the APS the opportunity to address skills shortages in particular fields by looking to qualified people with disability to fill those skilled vacancies on completion of the training scheme.

Managing and Sustaining the APS Workforce urges agencies to adopt ‘strategic and dynamic approaches to managing and sustaining the APS workforce’ by looking to the diverse nature of the workforce.69 People with disability are one element of that diversity and should be considered in any workforce planning efforts, particularly for hard-to-find specialty groups including accountants and IT professionals.

Employers in the private sector are increasingly following this course. IBM, for example, has a range of schemes aimed at fostering interest in IT at an early age, including visits by IBM staff to schools to speak to people with disability and young women about the breadth of career choices.70

3.2.1 Agency training schemes

Agency heads may, under the Public Service Regulations 1999, approve training schemes to engage people on a non-ongoing basis to gain skills and experience to assist them to participate in the workforce.71

In developing these schemes agencies can consider organising and promoting them in a way which encourages and supports people with disability to apply. Depending on the focus of the scheme, agencies could also use the National Disability Recruitment Coordinator, the Disability Employment Network or university disability coordinators72 to identify suitable applicants.

At the end of the training scheme participants would no longer be employed by the agency, but will have improved their job readiness and be well-equipped to compete on merit for future positions in the agency.

In 2004–05, five agencies used agency-based employment schemes which encouraged the recruitment of people with disability.73

Instances where similar schemes have been used include:

  • The Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts (DCITA) has recently offered a small group of school leavers the opportunity to kick-start their careers in the APS by offering APS 1 positions as part of a twelve-month programme for school leavers who are interested in gaining work experience in different areas of the department, supported by particular leadership, peer support and mentoring activities.
  • DEWR has offered twelve-month contract management traineeships to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • The New South Wales and Queensland Governments are encouraging their managers to use identified positions to employ people with disability to enable them to obtain relevant experience that will better equip them to compete on merit. These governments are using the Disability Employment Network to assist them in achieving this goal.74

3.2.2 Developing mentoring programmes for people with disability transitioning into the workforce

Mentoring programmes help students with disability to make the transition from study to work by providing opportunities to develop an understanding of the commercial world, develop relationships, and enhance their personal and professional strategies. The mentoring relationship has, in some instances, enabled students with disability to access work experience and a referee, and develop longer- term relationships which can assist in gaining employment.

… It gave me the motivation and self belief to pursue things I thought I could not achieve. My refereed law journal article was printed and circulated last week, and, as I flicked through it, I was reminded that my mentor’s guidance was partly responsible for motivating me to get published. Also got paid part time legal work and the mock interviews with my mentor were a huge help.75

These programmes also benefit mentors, giving them the opportunity to share their professional experience with people with disability and increase their awareness of the issues faced by people with disability and, more importantly, the skills and abilities they have to offer. Personal insights can be a powerful driver for cultural change within organisations.

… I just met with student, John doing PhD in architecture as you know. He is undoubtedly one of the most brilliant people I have ever met, incredible IQ, his only ‘disability’ is with dyslexia. Just goes to show how emphasis should be on ability not disability. Also great for me, as we have lots of ideas in common and potential to work together on some projects. So I’m very happy with this connection.76

A range of mentoring programmes are funded by FaCSIA, and the Department of Education, Science and Training (DEST) to assist young people in making the transition to work. Some, including the Willing and Able Mentoring Program,77 specifically cater to students with disability, matching university students with mentors in appropriate sectors and providing support to both mentors and students through briefing sessions.

Coordinators of this and similar programmes experience difficulties identifying suitable mentors in the public service. APS managers are encouraged to participate in, and lend their support to, these programmes.

3.3 Employment of people with intellectual disability

Opportunities for people with intellectual disability, including acquired brain injury, have significantly declined across the APS. Managing and Sustaining the APS Workforce acknowledged that the trend across agencies to curtail base-level recruitment has helped make the APS a ‘graduate’ workforce and greatly reduced opportunities for, among others, people with intellectual disability.78

Agency heads can recruit staff with intellectual disability to ongoing positions, without breaching the merit selection principles, by utilising the special employment measures under clause 4.2(6)(b)(ii) of the Public Service Commissioner’s Directions 1999.79

Prior to the passage of the Public Service Act 1999, the measures were supported by the Intellectual Disability Access Program (IDAP). That programme matched people with intellectual disability with vacancies in the APS and provided initial training to assist them to develop the necessary skills. On completion of that training, recruits were expected to work to a standard and at a rate acceptable for other recruits.

Recruits who were unable to achieve that level of productivity could be employed under the Disability Employment Enhancement Scheme80 as temporary employees for a period of up to 12–16 weeks and have a wage assessment under the Supported Wage System81 at the end of that period. From the outcome of the wage assessment, the APS employer could decide to offer ongoing employment under IDAP, and the person with disability would be paid at the assessed rate.82

The Disability Employment Enhancement Scheme continues to exist under the Public Service Act 1999.83 The IDAP Guidelines date back to 1992, are not regarded as current and are not readily available to agencies. The Australian Public Service Commission, in consultation with other relevant agencies, will review current advice and develop new or additional guidelines as appropriate.

Only one agency reported using special employment measures in 2004–05.84 The absence of guidance to agencies, such as that provided previously through IDAP, is likely to be a factor.

The heightened performance culture of the APS, with accompanying demands on managers’ time, is likely to be another. In this environment, agencies are struggling to identify suitable positions for candidates with intellectual disability. However, job redesign of some lower-level positions, incorporating routine administrative tasks such as photocopying, printing, mailing and filing, could provide appropriate employment opportunities. These positions need not be full-time. Part-time positions could suit the needs of both the agency, if duties are not sufficient for a full-time position, and the employee whose health and other limitations make full-time employment difficult. At least one agency is investigating this option.

The success of such positions depends on ‘matching’ the duties of the position and the abilities of the successful applicant. Members of the Disability Employment Network85 are able to assist agencies to achieve that match by developing the selection criteria for such positions, identifying suitable applicants, readying the workplace, and providing support and on-the-job training to the successful applicant in the long-term. Support of that kind can free up managers to concentrate on other tasks.

Chapter 4 Supporting APS employees with disability

The 2005 State of the Service Employee Survey asked respondents to indicate their level of agreement with the statement ‘my agency actively supports the employment, development and promotion of people with a disability’. Forty-seven per cent of respondents with disability agreed with the statement, compared to 57% of respondents without disability.

Responses to similar questions about women and people from all cultural backgrounds indicate agencies are seen to be more supportive of the employment of women and people from non-English speaking backgrounds than of people with disability (or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people).

The proportion of employees in large agencies who agreed their agency actively supports the employment and career aspirations of employees with disability ranged widely (from 24% to 75%), with the highest agreement rates at the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM), CRS, Centrelink, Defence and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).86

The better practice strategies of these and other better performing agencies to support employees with disability have a number of components. First, their premises are accessible.

Second, to be fully effective, their employees with disability have access to the work-related communications and information necessary to carry out their duties. Third, while not targeting the needs of employees with disability, the better performing agencies encourage flexible working arrangements that are incidentally beneficial to many people with disability.

Fourth, their employees with disability have access to learning and development opportunities to meet their career goals. Fifth, staff with disability have access to an advocate or mentor, as well as disability coordinators and case managers or, in smaller agencies, HR staff with relevant expertise,87 within their agency.

4.1 Making reasonable adjustments

Improving accessibility is not only a question of better employment practice; it is an obligation imposed by the Disability Discrimination Act 1992. Employers must eliminate not only the more obvious or direct discrimination based on disability, but also any barrier the work situation poses to equal opportunity, equal participation or equal performance by someone with disability. Changes of this nature are referred to as ‘reasonable adjustment’.88

Reasonable adjustment may include:

  • adjustments to the workplace or work-related premises, equipment or facilities, including provision of additional equipment or facilities
  • adjustments to work-related communications or information provision, including the form or format in which information is available
  • adjustments to work methods
  • adjustments to work arrangements, including in relation to hours of work and use of leave entitlements
  • adjustments to methods used for testing, assessment or selection
  • adjustments to work-related rules or other adjustments to enable a person to comply with rules as they exist
  • access to training, transfer, acting, trial or higher duties positions, traineeships, or other forms of opportunity to demonstrate or develop capacity in a position
  • provision of interpreters, readers, attendants or other work-related assistance
  • permitting or facilitating a person to use equipment or assistance provided by the person with disability or by another person or organisation
  • providing training to co-workers or supervisors
  • other work-related adjustments.89

Employers are not required to make reasonable adjustments which would impose an unjustifiable hardship on them or which would be unreasonable. However, ‘reasonable’ is defined by whether or not the adjustment would create ‘unjustifiable hardship’ to the whole organisation, and not by a particular manager’s opinion of what is reasonable.

While legal compliance is important, it is equally relevant that agencies which do not make adequate reasonable adjustments not only fail to attract high quality candidates with disability, but also face increased turnover costs through the loss of existing employees with disability. A significant reason people with disability give for leaving employment is the difficulty they experience in getting reasonable adjustments made in the workplace.90

In 2004–05, 88% of agencies (58 out of 66) reported they provided access to reasonable adjustments (that is, adaptive technology or other practical support such as signers or parking spaces).91 In contrast, only 47% of APS employees with disability believe their agency actively supports their employment.92 Employee focus groups and advocacy groups also report that in some cases reasonable adjustments are not yet routinely available or there are lengthy delays in receiving them.93

4.1.1 Making premises more accessible

Physical access to premises, and to facilities within those premises, remains an issue for many APS employees with disability. The central office of an APS agency with policy responsibility for disability issues discovered, during consultations for this review, that its Melbourne office was not accessible by a person using a wheelchair; nor did it have toilets accessible to someone in a wheelchair, or disability parking.

Other agencies report that employees have been confined to the ground floor of heritage-listed and older buildings which do not have lift services. This limits their ability to participate in activities (such as meetings, training courses and conferences) held on other floors. Employees with disability in this situation also find it difficult to participate in informal activities that enhance their enjoyment of work and their productivity, and may ultimately influence their decision to stay or go.

For employees with visual disability, inadequately signposted entrances and exits, a lack of colour contrast to distinguish the edge of raised floor surfaces, indistinguishable bollards and large expanses of clear glass continue to make access and mobility difficult, if not hazardous.

APS employees with disability consulted during focus groups for this and a previous Management Advisory Committee inquiry,94 report that difficulties accessing buildings is a significant factor in their career decisions.

New premises

Section 23 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against a person with disability in providing access to premises, or facilities within those premises, unless to provide that access would impose ‘unjustifiable hardship’ on the employer.

To provide specific guidance and specifications to ensure an appropriate level of access to premises, the Government has asked the Australian Building Codes Board to recommend changes to the Building Code of Australia. If agreed to by the Government, the proposed amendments could form the technical specifications of a possible (national) Disability Standard for Access to Premises (Buildings) to be formulated by the Attorney-General under the Disability Discrimination Act.

While the proposals are still being developed, and thus specific comment cannot be made at this time, it is likely they will propose technical requirements for new buildings or the renovation, refurbishment of existing buildings for symbols and signs, lighting, hearing augmentation, emergency warning systems, accessways, manoeuvring areas, passing areas, ramps, doorways and doors, lifts, stairways, toilets, tactile ground surface indicators, and controls.

Existing premises

The obligation under section 23 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 to provide access to premises, except where that would impose ‘unjustifiable hardship’ on an employer, also applies to existing buildings. A willingness to make reasonable adjustments to existing buildings, including heritage-listed buildings, is important in eliminating discrimination.

Commonly, adjustments made for the few benefit the entire workforce and the public. Installing a lift in a building that may not have had lift access, or a ramp where there was previously only stair access, will benefit not only the employee in a wheelchair but also the employee who has sprained their ankle in a weekend football game or the employee developing age-related arthritis. Lifts and ramps can also be used to move heavy equipment and supplies, thus providing OHS benefits and potentially reducing insurance premiums.

Agencies are encouraged to undertake an assessment of the accessibility of existing premises in order to identify and prioritise modifications or additions needed to ensure an accessible work environment. These include ramps with handrails, designated accessible parking, accessible lifts (including Braille buttons, light indicators and audio announcements), hearing loops in training and meeting rooms and public auditoria, adequate numbers of accessible toilet facilities on each floor, tactile indicators, colour contrast and identification of glass, provision of ‘sharps’ containers (for those staff whose medical treatment requires injectable drugs), appropriately-sized building entrances, corridors and workstations, and modification of warning and alarm systems such as fire alarms for hearing and/or vision-impaired people.

Agencies may wish to consider retaining access consultants to advise them on building access standards, given their specialist nature.

Further information and resources on the requirements under the Disability Discrimination Act can be found on the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission’s website at: www.hreoc.gov.au/disability_rights/building/access_to_premises.html.

4.1.2 Making work-related communications and information more accessible

In addition to modifying work premises, employers are required to make other reasonable adjustments an employee with disability needs to perform the essential activities of the job. To be fully effective, employees with disability require access to work-related communications and the information necessary to carry out their duties.

The necessary adaptive technologies to ensure access to those communications and information can take the form of:

  • email messaging, voice telephones with adequate volume control, TTYs (text telephones) or the provision of Australian Sign Language (AUSLAN) interpreters or assistive listening systems for an employee who is deaf or hearing-impaired
  • the provision of text material that can be transformed into accessible formats such as large print, Braille or synthetic speech, for an employee who is blind or vision-impaired
  • the provision of voice-activated software such as Dragon, for people with a physical disability.

Commonly, people with disability are the best judge of the adaptive technologies they need. They also prefer to be asked about those needs as well as their capabilities, rather than have others make assumptions about their needs or capabilities.

It is also desirable that agencies’ disability coordinators or HR staff with responsibility for disability employment issues have access to education and training which allows them to identify the reasonable adjustments required by employees with disability.

New employees

Managers are encouraged to discuss the requirements of new employees with disability as soon as they become aware of the disability. At the same time, managers should seek the assistance of their agency’s disability coordinator or HR staff as well as organisations specialising in placing people with disability in employment (this is discussed in Chapter 3), in deciding on the adaptive technologies and other reasonable adjustments that are required. This will ensure that other more appropriate solutions the employee may not be familiar with are not overlooked. Better practice suggests that, wherever possible, these decisions are made and the necessary equipment is in place before the employee commences work.

Assessment of the reasonable adjustments required by existing employees

Agencies are encouraged, in consultation with employees with disability, and with the assistance of an organisation specialising in placing people with disability in employment, to undertake an assessment of the adaptive technology requirements of existing employees to ensure their needs are being met.

That assessment should not be limited to adaptive technologies, but should examine all the reasonable adjustments employees with disability need to ensure their equal participation in the workplace. It should address the reasonable adjustments required in an employee’s immediate work environment, as well as agencies’ information and communication policies to ensure they are inclusive of employees with disability. For example, to enable employees with disability to fully participate in large meetings, training courses, conferences and other events that are part of the complete work experience, those with hearing impairment may need access to hearing loops or AUSLAN interpreters, and employees with visual impairments may need copies of overheads in advance.

Best practice e-government services and IT purchases

Incompatible adaptive technology and upgrades to information technology platforms which fail to take account of the adaptive technologies that are to run on those platforms can result in a significant decline in the productivity of employees with disability reliant on those technologies.95

Agencies are encouraged to use the Assistive Technology for Employees of Australian Government Better Practice Checklist96 which guides agencies on a structured approach to the purchase and deployment of information and communications technology (ICT) support for adaptive technology and teleworking. This will reduce the need for agencies to make changes that incur additional expenses for IT solutions later on.

Finance is encouraged to review the Government Information Technology Contractual Framework Version 4 to ensure that the contractual obligations on contractors to provide accessible IT systems are adequate. It is also encouraged to develop a community of practice to assist IT specialists and contract managers to understand the IT implications of adaptive technologies and provide advice on how to integrate these into existing IT arrangements.

4.1.3 Making adjustments to work arrangements (‘flexible work practices’)

The Public Service Commissioner’s Directions 1999 require that agency heads put in place measures to ensure employment and workplace arrangements take appropriate account of employees who seek to balance individual needs and the achievement of organisational goals.97 In addition, agency workplace diversity plans are to include measures to ensure workplace structures, systems and procedures assist employees in balancing their work, family and other caring responsibilities.98

A wide range of flexible working practices (or ‘work–life balance strategies’) are used in the APS, with the workplace diversity plans and collective agreements of many agencies incorporating options for flexible arrangements such as home-based work, job-sharing, part-time work, flexible working hours and purchased leave.99

These ‘mainstream’ arrangements, while not targeted at the needs of people with disability, particularly benefit those who have difficulty physically accessing workplaces, those experiencing episodic illness and those whose disability makes extended work hours difficult. For example, the benefits of home-based work for people with disability are:

  • flexible working hours (which allow people who require the assistance of personal carers to more readily combine visits by carers with their work responsibilities)
  • savings in travel costs and commuting time (particularly for those whose physical disabilities make access to public transport difficult and who have to rely on expensive taxi transport)
  • greater control over the scheduling of work hours (to combine work commitments with medical appointments and rest breaks).

Table 4.1 indicates the level to which agencies have adopted various flexible working practices.

Table 4.1: Work–life balance strategies available in agencies, 2004 to 2005
Work–life balance strategies number of agencies (n = 82)
yes being developed no no, but measure provided on an informal basis

Note: results do not include agencies that did not respond to the question relating to the particular strategy.

Source: State of the Service Report 2004–05, p. 236.

Flex-time arrangements for non-APS level employees (for example, ELs) 36 1 27 18
Time-off in lieu arrangements for ELs 60 0 7 15
Time-off in lieu arrangements for the SES 34 0 21 25
Purchased leave arrangements (for example, 48/52) 68 3 11 n/a
Recreation leave entitlement available at half pay 45 2 35 n/a
Job share arrangements 49 2 19 11

Job redesign appears to have received little formal recognition as a flexible work arrangement. The ability, for example, of an employee with a hearing disability to negotiate a job redesign that swaps telephone duties with a colleague in return for handling written enquiries would enhance that employee’s employment opportunities.

Further, only 49 agencies formally offer job-share arrangements, although another 11 agencies offer them informally. Job-sharing could provide particular opportunities for people with disability, who may only be in a position to work part-time, to access positions requiring full-time coverage (including promotion to managerial positions).

Extended leave entitlements vary widely between agencies and are commonly at the discretion of agency delegates. Agencies may wish to consider offering flexible work arrangements that allow people with episodic or extended illness to access extended leave where required (for example, purchased personal leave).

Agencies, in consultation with employees with disability and other key stakeholders, are encouraged to review their collective agreements, and workplace diversity plans, to ensure they encourage and support flexible working practices that allow all employees, including employees with disability, to realise their full potential. Practices of particular benefit to employees with disability include:

  • home-based work or ‘teleworking’ or ‘telecommuting’
  • job-sharing
  • part-time work
  • flexible working hours
  • purchased leave arrangements (including 48/52 leave)
  • makeup time
  • time-off in lieu
  • hours averaged over an extended period
  • periods of respite during the day (that can be made up at other times)
  • job redesign.

Despite the formal availability of flexible working arrangements, employees may not feel free, in practice, to access those arrangements. Where managers assess requests for flexible work arrangements in the light of the demands facing the work unit and the unit’s ability to accommodate those flexible arrangements, they may consider their ability to be flexible is limited. On the other hand, some employees with disability who have good reasons to access flexible work arrangements, avoid doing so in case it sends the message they are ‘not serious’ about their job. Those attitudes, and the culture they generate, mean some employees with disability are discouraged from accessing the arrangements that are available.

To address this situation, managers need more information on flexible work arrangements and the benefits they offer the organisation as a whole. This is consistent with the findings of the recent report, Telework for Australian Employees and Businesses: Maximising the Economic and Social Benefits of Flexible Working Practice, which found many managers take a traditional view of how work should be performed and fail to see the benefits of telework.100 Information could be communicated to managers through management development programmes as well as HR policies and procedures, and backed up by positive examples of how flexible working arrangements have been used successfully in the agency.

For some people with disability, AWAs can offer a particularly useful vehicle for tailoring a flexible work arrangement on an individual basis that is particularly suited to their needs. However, some people with disability consulted in the course of this review felt they would be in a weak bargaining position in negotiating an AWA.101

Agencies should ensure employees with disability are provided with appropriate representation and support in establishing an AWA and the package of conditions offered to employees with disability is not less than that offered to employees without disability. In doing so, agencies are encouraged to seek advice and assistance from the Office of the Employment Advocate in designing appropriate AWAs.102

4.1.4 Access to development opportunities

To meet their career goals, APS employees with disability need access to the learning and development experiences relevant to those career goals.

However, APS employees with disability do not appear to receive the same development opportunities as their colleagues without disability. In responses to the 2005 State of the Service Employee Survey, 16% of respondents without disability reported spending more than 10 days in off-the-job learning and development opportunities in 2004–05 (compared with 11% of respondents with disability).103 People with disability in roles requiring direct contact with the public were also more dissatisfied with their access to relevant training and information. Significantly fewer people with disability agreed (65% compared to 78% of employees without disability) and significantly more disagreed (29% compared to 11% without disability) that they had appropriate access to such opportunities.

Typically, also, respondents with disability experienced fewer opportunities to participate in specialised leadership development programmes, placement and mobility options inside their agency, and mentoring and personal sponsorship opportunities, than did respondents without disability.104 In addition, respondents with disability were more likely to disagree that merit was routinely applied in the temporary assignment of higher duties.105

Participants with disability in the focus groups conducted for this review also voiced these perceptions. Some reported that they were not given opportunities such as access to courses, transfers at level, and opportunities to develop their skills at a higher level. Other barriers included difficulties physically accessing training venues and training materials that were not available in an accessible form. Respondents who required adaptive technologies or other modifications to enable them to participate in training courses reported that these adjustments may not be made, thus limiting benefits they could derive from such courses. In some cases, the costs of the adaptations were cited as the cause.

Better practice strategies agencies could consider include holding discussions about learning and development opportunities with employees with disability during the performance management process. Where adaptations are required, they could be funded out of a central fund for reasonable adjustments for staff with disability, so managers need not balance the training needs of employees with disability against the training needs of other employees.

Agencies could also seek the views of staff with disability on strategies to overcome the restrictions they face in accessing training at both internal and external venues. Strategies could include flexible learning solutions, CD ROMs or learning by distance. Organisations specialising in the employment of people with disability can assist agencies develop solutions to meet the needs of their staff.

Agencies can also improve the competitiveness of employees with disability by supporting and encouraging them to upgrade their qualifications. Some difficulties staff with disability experience in winning positions on merit may be due to their qualifications. Significantly fewer employees with disability have bachelor level degrees and significantly more have vocational qualifications than people without disability. Difficulties students with disability face in accessing higher education include problems accessing adaptive technologies, the need to provide assessments in different formats and the need for extra time to complete those assessments.

Agencies can provide support by reviewing study assistance schemes to ensure they provide sufficient study leave for staff with disability and allow access to adaptive technologies, for example, by providing equipment for their use at home.

4.1.5 Advocates and mentors

People with disability report frustration when their needs cannot be met because of conflicting organisational priorities. The solution is to encourage a culture supporting employees with disability and providing avenues for their views to be heard. Primary responsibility falls to managers. Additionally, however, there could be scope to identify an advocate to negotiate on behalf of employees with disability to ensure they receive ‘a fair go’. This could alleviate, in part, the sense of powerlessness staff with disability can experience.

To avoid perceptions an advocate was a mere token appointment, the appointee would need to be committed to representing people with disability, understand the practical issues that confront them, be approachable, understand the diverse nature of disability and be committed to genuine and constructive communication and negotiation, on a regular basis, with agency employees with disability.106 The importance of the role to the agency needs to be recognised and incorporated into the advocate’s performance management arrangements. It is unlikely to be a full-time role, but does need formal acknowledgement.

Chapter 5 Supporting managers

Managers fear that employing people with disability will be too time consuming, be a cost to the budget of their work units and adversely affect their ability to meet their outputs.107

5.1 Reducing the complexity, cost and risk for managers

To address these concerns, managers need access to expert support, appropriate funding, relevant information and appropriate organisational policies.

5.1.1 Disability coordinators and case managers

Key to achieving cultural change will be to ensure access to information and expertise within agencies to support both managers and staff with disability. An option adopted by some agencies with a better record in employing people with disability is to appoint a disability coordinator and/or case managers to manage the needs of staff with disability and handle the return to work programmes of staff following extended illness or injury. In some larger agencies, the disability action officer position focuses solely on the employment of people with disability. In smaller agencies, the duties are commonly combined with other workplace diversity, OHS, case management and HR responsibilities.

IBM acknowledges that a central point of contact and support at the operational level was crucial in the early days of its cultural change strategy. The success of that strategy means the central point of expertise at the operational level is no longer essential, with managers across the organisation dealing with disability issues as part of their day-to-day business. Nevertheless, IBM retains a position at the strategic level to continue to foster the new culture and ensure that new staff and managers understand the importance of diversity to IBM’s business model.108

The disability coordinator will need adequate resources to find solutions to the needs of employees with disability; have information at hand to answer queries from staff and managers, or be in a position to access that information in a timely manner; and be able to work with strategic employment organisations. The existence of the position and the services it offers should be publicised to all staff.109

At one level, the existence of dedicated positions such as this is at odds with the notion of mainstreaming the employment of people with disability. In particular, their existence can sometimes persuade organisations they have done enough to satisfy their diversity obligations and that responsibility for all disability matters can be left to the disability coordinator for resolution.

On the other hand, centralising the administration of disability support measures in one location allows the build-up of greater expertise and effectiveness over time, to more effectively support both managers and staff. In so doing, it makes managers’ jobs easier and helps to change the perception that employing people with disability is too hard.

Ideally, the position would be required for an initial period of three to five years, by which time the culture would be more supportive of people with disability and the duties of the position could be mainstreamed under the broader umbrella of agencies’ diversity programmes.

5.1.2 Funding and resources

Managers of people with disability need adequate resources to fund reasonable adjustments. Preferably, these come from a centralised fund within agencies and not individual branch finances.

Where monies come from the budgets of individual work units:

  • people with disability report they are reluctant to make their needs known because this could affect the ability of the unit to fund other requirements
  • concerns about the unquantifiable nature of some costs (such as AUSLAN interpreter fees) mean these services are not provided as often as they should be
  • the training needs of people with disability who require adaptive technology to access that training are commonly overlooked if the additional cost of that training would deny training to others in the unit
  • some people with disability experience difficulties in having their adaptive technology transferred between agencies, and sometimes within agencies, with the result that adaptive technology has to be purchased again by the gaining unit or agency.110

Many of those consulted, including APS managers and employees with disability, favoured the centralised funding approach already adopted by some agencies.

Agencies are encouraged to ensure adaptive technology and other portable reasonable adjustments are transferable within their agency and, to the greatest extent possible, transferable to other APS agencies.

Agencies are able to access the Workplace Modification Scheme111 to assist with the costs of workplace modifications for employees with disability. Under that Scheme, while the owner of the equipment or workplace modifications is to be agreed, in most cases the employee will have ownership, thus facilitating the portability of that equipment in appropriate cases.

Of particular concern to managers is the impact on their ability to achieve outcomes when an employee requires extended time-off as a result of their disability (particularly through episodic illness). Solutions agencies could consider in addressing these difficulties include:

  • greater use of flexible work arrangements, such as job-sharing arrangements, so that in the absence of one of the participants some continuity remains
  • reallocating priorities and deadlines
  • funding additional positions or parts of positions to cover the absences.

5.1.3 One-stop shop

Managers, people with disability, disability coordinators, case managers and human resources staff require easy access to comprehensive information on the employment of people with disability. Comments by participants in this review unanimously supported the one-stop information shop called JobAccess112 incorporating a website and an information line, developed by DEWR. DEWR is encouraged to incorporate in the one-stop shop information relevant to the APS employment of people with disability.

Information that managers and employees suggested should be available on the website included:

  • types of disability and their effects
  • reasonable adjustments
  • the management of people with disability, including performance management
  • disability support schemes (for example, the Supported Wage System)
  • success stories of people with disability in the workplace
  • where to go to for assistance
  • a chat-room facility to allow employees to discuss strategies for managing workplace issues and share ideas and information.113

The need for the one-stop shop to be accessible, up-to-date, and for employers and employees to be able to seek advice by phone, was also emphasised.

5.1.4 APS better practice guides

Effective organisation-wide policies and procedures are needed to support the recruitment and retention of people with disability.

The Australian Public Service Commission already publishes a range of better practice guides on employment-related issues. The Commission will incorporate into those guides advice on the recruitment and retention of people with disability in the APS including attracting candidates with disability, making reasonable adjustments, and facilitating learning and development opportunities. The Commission was also funded in the 2006–07 Budget to undertake a case study evaluation of approaches to the recruitment and management of people with disability. It will develop a good practice guide as an outcome of that evaluation.

In adapting better practice guides to their circumstances, or in developing their own, agencies are encouraged to consult employees with disability and disability representative organisations.

Some agencies are well-advanced in developing their own better practice policy. FaCSIA, for example, is working with Diversity@Work to develop a strategic approach to the employment of people with disability. The policies being developed provide a useful model for agencies’ consideration.114. Better practice guides on recruiting and working with people from diverse backgrounds, including people with disability, have also been developed by many State and Territory governments including the ACT, Queensland, and New South Wales Governments.115

5.1.5 Salary setting

Some managers expressed concern about the implications of employing people with disability whose productivity may be less than that of people without disability.

While some people with disability may be less productive than people without disability, a large-scale study of the benefits and costs to Australian employers of employing a person with disability found people with disability generally perform better than their colleagues without disability on such factors as attendance, sick leave, OHS, compensation and insurance costs.116 The study also stressed the positive impact that people with disability can have on the productivity of teams around them.117

The value to an organisation of a good working environment, especially effective working relationships, should not be understated. ‘Good working relationships’ was the top satisfaction factor identified by respondents to the 2005 State of the Service Employee Survey.118 Agencies should thus balance the contribution employees with disability make on these factors when evaluating their total contribution to the workplace.

Most APS employees with disability are paid full wages prescribed in collective agreements, AWAs or award wages. However, there may be times when the productivity of a new employee with disability may be below what is expected, due to the effect of their disability. In those circumstances, a productivity-based wage assessment may be independently determined under the Supported Wage System.119

The APS Award provides for supported salary payment of employees with disability. This provision is generally mirrored in agencies’ collective agreements.120 Agencies may wish to consult DEWR when renegotiating collective agreements, in the light of recent changes to the Workplace Relations Act 1996.

The performance management system also provides a useful avenue to address any issues concerning the productivity of existing employees. If a manager suspects a lack of performance is due to the person’s disability, an assessment should be arranged to determine if this is the case. If it is, appropriate modifications can be made to the job to promote more effective performance. If, despite those modifications and assistance from the manager to improve performance, the employee’s performance does not improve and termination of employment is being contemplated, the manager should consider accessing the ‘jobs in jeopardy’ arrangements offered by the Disability Employment Network and CRS. Information about these arrangements is available from local Centrelink Disability Officers.121 Individual case management by specialist case managers also plays a valuable role in situations such as this, where there can be an interaction of performance and health issues, and should be considered from the earliest stages of such processes.

5.1.6 Awareness of mental health in the workplace

In applying their duty of care, APS agencies need to be better informed and equipped to appropriately and effectively manage mental illness, depression and related disorders in the workplace. Wherever possible, early identification and treatment will reduce the negative impacts of mental illness on both the employee and the workplace.

It is important to ensure that employees with such disorders are safe and adequately supported to access timely treatment to facilitate their recovery and return to work.122 However, many managers and colleagues are unaware of how to identify symptoms of mental illness and how to assist their staff and colleagues who are affected.

A number of current management practices, such as offering time-off work or a holiday, may only compound the problem, making the situation worse. In some cases, poor performance or lack of motivation in the workplace may be linked to a mental illness. The evidence suggests that psychiatric disorders, depression and related illnesses, including anxiety and substance misuse, are not managed well across private and public sector organisations.123

Untreated depression, for example, can significantly reduce work performance. Depression accounts for over six million working days lost each year in Australia. It also accounts for more than twelve million days of reduced productivity each year, with serious implications for work safety.124 More than a million people around Australia experience depression, anxiety or related substance use disorders each year. Each employee with untreated depression will cost his or her employer $9,770 per year. As depression ‘affect[s] one in five people at some point in their adult lifetime, these figures also transfer to workplace settings’.125 Most of these people (72%) do not seek treatment, thus prolonging a negative impact on the workplace.

Increasing awareness and knowledge, reducing stigma and increasing managers’ and employees’ competence and confidence to take proactive steps to manage depression and other related disorders ultimately reduce the personal, social and economic cost of such disorders in any organisation. APS managers and staff can be better equipped to effectively manage these in the workplace through systematic training programmes, such as the beyondblue National Depression in the Workplace Program.126

Through this educational process, APS agencies can become more aware of helpful behaviours and identify responses that may be unhelpful or even detrimental to recovery. Reducing the stigma of mental illness or depression is also critical because attitudes play a key role in achieving behavioural change and broader acceptance, resulting in higher retention rates of employees with these disorders.

Employees’ Assistance Programmes and/or expert case managers within an organisation can also contribute to increased awareness and knowledge among managers.

5.1.7 Ongoing disability awareness for all employees

Effectively changing the culture of an agency requires ongoing exposure of employees at all levels to the issues facing people with disability. Agencies can raise awareness of those issues through learning and development programmes. Such awareness raising need not be limited to formal disability awareness training programmes, although this is a good place to start, but should be incorporated into management training, induction sessions and other learning and development activities addressing people management and team development.

In addition, agencies may wish to promote the achievements of their employees with disability. Defence, for example, conducts an annual photography competition featuring people with disability.

5.1.8 Networking with other organisations

Overseas experience suggests organisations participating in a support network of employers achieve positive outcomes in improving employment opportunities for people with disability. Over 600 private and public sector organisations in the United Kingdom, employing nearly a quarter of the UK workforce, are members of the Employers’ Forum on Disability.127

In Australia, APS agencies can access the combined experience of more than 66 Australian organisations through one such organisation, the Australian Employers’ Network on Disability, managed by Employers Making a Difference Inc.128 Current members of the network include DEWR, FaCSIA, and the Department of Health and Ageing (Health).

Chapter 6 Monitoring agencies’ performance

‘What gets measured, gets valued.’ Thus, monitoring agencies’ performance in providing employment opportunities for people with disability will be an important component of any cultural change strategy. To do that effectively, it is first necessary to establish a ‘base-line’ against which improvements can be demonstrated.

6.1 Current data

Reaching an accurate picture of that base-line is difficult to do, however, because of limitations with current APS data and data collection arrangements.

6.1.1 People with disability as a proportion of APS employees

APS figures on the employment of people with disability are drawn from APSED which, in turn, relies on data from agencies’ HR systems. That data indicates that, in 2005, the proportion of ongoing APS staff with disability was 3.8%, compared with 6.6% nearly two decades earlier (see Figure 6.1). In 1986, 9690 APS employees had a disability—out of a total of 147,081 employees; in 2005, 4642 APS employees had a disability out of 123,242 employees.129

Figure 6.1: Proportion of ongoing staff with disability, 1986 to 2005

 

Download Figure 6.1 as an Excel file

Source: APSED

6.1.2 Data limitations

However, the reporting of data on disability by APS employees to their agencies is voluntary and, as such, the APSED data can only be an approximation of the incidence of disability across the APS.

Information from other sources, including responses to an invitation issued by MAC to APS staff to participate in focus group discussions exploring reasons people choose not to disclose their disability status, as well as the staff surveys of some agencies and the annual State of the Service Employee Survey conducted by the Australian Public Service Commission, suggests the APSED data is under-reporting the actual numbers of people with disability in the APS.

Study of the reasons APS employees choose not to disclose their disability status

APSED has no information on the disability status of 31% of ongoing APS employees.130 The non-response level is similar for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees, which suggests that factors other than specific disability status may be responsible. To understand why the response rate is low, APS staff with disability who have not disclosed their disability status to their agencies were invited to contribute to a study of the reasons people choose not to disclose their disability status. To protect the privacy and anonymity of participants in the focus groups, the study was carried out by an independent consultant, Ms Jenny Oates.131 Over 100 APS employees from 15 departments responded to the invitation, of whom 25 actually participated in the focus groups.

Reasons cited by participants in that study for choosing not to disclose their disability status are outlined in Table 6.1. The most significant of those reasons, cited by 88% of participants, was concern or fear of stigma or discrimination arising from that disclosure. The second most common reason, cited by 56% of participants, was deficiencies in the way in which personal data was collected, most notably, that participants had disclosed their disability to their manager, but that information was not necessarily captured in their HR records or APSED data.

Table 6.1: Reasons for not reporting disability status
Reasons cited at focus group sessions* % of total: n=25
* some participants identified more than one reason for non-disclosure.
Satisfied with current arrangements (3—each had a visible physical disability and currently receive assistance) 12%
Not relevant to workplace 0%
Deficiencies in way personal data is collected by agencies; reporting directly to supervisor but not reflected in APSED (14) 56%
Concerns/fear of stigma or discrimination (22) 88%
Other: Unaware condition classed as disability (2) 8%
State of the Service Employee Survey

On the other hand, the 2004 State of the Service Employee Survey, which also affords respondents anonymity, asked those who answered they had a disability: ‘Have you informed your agency of your disability?’ Only 11% responded they had chosen not to inform their agency, suggesting—in that case—that reasons other than a reluctance to volunteer the information were more significant. The 2006 State of the Service Employee Survey will again canvass this issue.

Of the APS employees who completed the State of the Service Employee Survey in 2003, 4% reported they had a disability. In 2004, 7% of respondents indicated they had a disability and in 2005 the figure was 6%. This data suggests the proportion of people with disability working in the APS in 2005 could be between 5% and 7%.132

Individual agencies’ staff surveys

The results of staff surveys conducted by individual agencies also highlight discrepancies between the number of respondents who disclose a disability to those surveys, compared with the APSED data for that department for the same period. By way of illustration, staff survey information for DEST at 30 June 2005 shows 63 people chose to identify as a person with disability (based on an overall 75.2% survey response rate)—a figure that is higher than the department’s APSED figure for the same period—55 ongoing employees. On the other hand, the number of respondents to Health’s November 2005 staff survey, reporting a disability, matched the APSED figure for the department of 4.8% while the figure of 1.4% reported in the Department of Transport and Regional Services (DOTARS) 2004 staff survey was lower than that reported in the department’s APSED statistical data for that period (1.8%).

These differing results from different sources indicate care needs to be taken in relying on APSED data, and that this data is likely to under-report the actual numbers of people with disability in the APS. These results also indicate the importance that agencies should put on collecting comprehensive data from staff and providing accurate data to APSED.

6.1.3 Separations and engagements of APS employees with disability

Nevertheless, APSED remains the sole source of comprehensive data on APS employees and to that extent it is the most authoritative source of data available to the review.

APSED data indicates that, for each of the past 20 years except for 1990–91 and 2002–03, separations of people with disability have consistently outnumbered engagements (Figure 6.2). In 2004–05, the engagement rate for people with disability was 2.1% of all engagements and the separation rate was 4.1%.133

Compared with the earlier period, the separation rate has improved (4.1% in 2004–05 compared with 4.7% in 1985–86)134 but there remains scope for further improvement.

Figure 6.2: Employees with disability as a proportion of ongoing separations and engagements, 1985–86 to 2004–05

 

Download Figure 6.2 as an Excel file

Note: The separation rate is not available for 1985–86.

Source: APSED

Notwithstanding the likely data deficiencies, the overall trend is clear—fewer people with disability are being recruited into the APS, and existing staff with disability are leaving at a faster rate than new employees are being recruited.

6.1.4 Proportion of people with disability in individual APS agencies

In 2004–05, agencies with relatively high proportions of people with disability were the Australian Public Service Commission (11.1%), Questacon (9.3%), the Department of Human Services (DHS) (8.3%) and the National Water Commission (NWC) (8.3%) (Figure 6.3).

However, these are all small agencies, employing fewer than 250 staff. Consequently, the actual number of people with disability they employ is relatively small.

Figure 6.3: Representation of employees with disability in small agencies (with fewer than 250 employees), June 2005
Agency Per cent
Australian Public Service Commission 11.1
Questacon 9.3
Human Services 8.3
National Water Commission 8.3
Australian Industrial Registry 7.7
Australian Film Commission 7.5
AIATSIS 7.1
Australian Research Council 6.5
Federal Privacy Commissioner 6.5
Commonwealth Grants Commission 5.4
Office of National Assessments 5.3
Aust. Institute of Health & Welfare 4.3
GBRMPA 4.2
Federal Court of Australia 3.8
NOPSA 3.6
Australian War Memorial 3.3
AOFM 3.2
National Museum of Australia 3.2
Aust. Broadcasting Authority 3.1
National Blood Authority 3.1
Commonwealth Ombudsman 3.0
ITSA 2.9
National Native Title Tribunal 2.8
HREOC 2.6
National Capital Authority 2.5
ARPANSA 2.5
Royal Australian Mint 2.1
CrimTrac Agency 2.0
Aust. National Maritime Museum 2.0
Administrative Appeals Tribunal 1.8
Productivity Commission 1.6
Federal Magistrates Service 1.3
AUSTRAC 0.9
FSANZ 0.0
Office of the Parliamentary Counsel 0.0
Aust. Institute of Family Studies 0.0
Office of Film & Literature Class 0.0
ACIAR 0.0
Torres Strait Regional Authority 0.0
Professional Services Review 0.0

 Download Figure 6.3 as an Excel file

Source: APSED

In 2004–05, large agencies (that is, those with more than 1000 employees) which had the highest levels of staff with disability, were those delivering services to people with disability in the community (Figure 6.4).

Figure 6.4: Representation of employees with disability in large agencies (with more than 1000 employees), June 2005
Agency Per cent
Centrelink 6.3
Health & Ageing 4.8
CRS Australia 4.4
Australian Bureau of Statistics 4.3
Family & Community Services 4.2
Veterans' Affairs 4.2
Environment & Heritage 4.1
Bureau of Meteorology 4.0
DEWR 3.6
DIMIA 3.4
Australian Taxation Office 3.2
Defence 3.2
DEST 3.1
Australian Customs Service 2.8
Child Support Agency 2.7
Industry, Tourism & Resources 2.7
Agriculture, Fisheries & Forestry 2.3
Foreign Affairs & Trade 1.9
Transport & Regional Services 1.8
Finance & Administration 1.3
ASIC 0.1

Download Figure 6.4 as an Excel file

Source: APSED

The proportion of staff with disability in Centrelink was 6.3%, well above the average for the APS as a whole. Centrelink delivers a wide range of services to people with disability including the payment of income support and mobility allowance.

Other large agencies with proportions of staff with disability above the APS average were Health (4.8%),135 CRS (4.4%), ABS (4.3%), FaCSIA (4.2%), and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) (4.2%).

The better performance by these agencies is almost certainly linked to their core business functions and the greater awareness and more supportive culture that has developed as a consequence of those functions.

However, in more than half of the largest APS agencies, the proportion of employees with disability was lower than the APS average of 3.8%.

In medium agencies, fewer than one agency in five reached the APS average. The medium agency with the highest proportion of employees with disability was the Family Court of Australia (Family Court) (6.6%) (Figure 6.5).

Figure 6.5: Representation of employees with disability in medium agencies (with 250 to 1000 employees), June 2005
Agency Per cent
Family Court of Australia 6.6
Commonwealth DPP 4.3
Aust. Communications Authority 4.0
National Archives of Australia 3.5
National Library of Australia 3.4
Comcare 3.2
Aboriginal Hostels Ltd. 2.7
MRT/RRT 2.3
Prime Minister & Cabinet 2.2
Treasury 2.2
AusAID 1.9
Attorney-General's 1.8
IP Australia 1.7
ACCC 1.5
Communications, IT & the Arts 1.1
Geoscience Australia 0.9
ComSuper 0.9
Defence Housing Authority 0.8
ANAO 0.7
Australian Crime Commission 0.6
Australian Electoral Commission 0.1

Download Figure 6.5 as an Excel file

Source: APSED

6.2 Reasons for decline in numbers of APS staff with disability

6.2.1 APS organisational and structural changes

The decline in the numbers of APS employees with disability has been a consequence of APS organisational and structural changes over the past two decades, including:

  • declining numbers of APS 1–2 positions
  • outsourcing of corporate services such as mail handling, printing, and cleaning
  • emphasis on a more educated workforce
  • broadbanding and multiskilling
  • greater focus on individual performance
  • the impact of self-reporting on data collection.
Declining numbers of APS 1 and 2 positions

The number of APS 1–2 employees has fallen significantly over the past 20 years. In 1986, 44.2% of the total APS workforce were at the APS 1–2 levels (64,985 out of 147,081 employees) compared with 5.2% in 2005 (6353 out of 123,242 employees).136

Employees with disability historically have been over-represented in the APS 1–2 classification groups.137 Hence the long-term decline in the number of positions at these levels has disproportionately affected the APS employment opportunities open to people with disability.

Outsourcing

The decline in the number of APS 1–2 positions reflects, among other things, changes in the nature of the work undertaken in the APS and the outsourcing of functions that traditionally employed high numbers of staff at these levels, such as mail room, printing and cleaning services.

Readily available data on the outsourcing of these functions is limited. However, data from the 2004 and 2005 State of the Service Agency Surveys indicates that in each of the years 2003–04 and 2004–05 around 30% of agencies finalised new outsourcing contracts or contract extensions138 in regard to some aspects of ‘other corporate services’. Around 40% of those agencies reported their outsourcing activity was in relation to those functions (outlined above) which traditionally employed people with disability.139

It is likely that contractors providing outsourced services to the APS will provide employment opportunities to people with disability who will have formerly been directly employed by the APS, but the actual numbers are impossible to quantify.

More educated workforce, broadbanding and multiskilling

However, the continuing decline in the number of APS employees with disability cannot be entirely attributed to the decline in the number of APS 1 and 2 positions.

The decline in the proportion of employees with disability is obvious at all classification levels (including ongoing APS 1 and 2), with the most obvious decline at the APS 3–4 and APS 5–6 levels (Figure 6.6). In 1986, employees with disability occupied 7.2% of APS 3–4, and 6.3% of APS 5–6 positions, while in 2005, employees with disability occupied 4.1% and 3.4% respectively. The proportion of employees with disability in EL positions also fell from 6.0% in 1986 to 3.4% in 2005.

Figure 6.6: Representation of ongoing employees with disability by classification group, 1986 to 2005

 

Download Figure 6.6 as an Excel file

Source: APSED

The declining numbers of employees with disability at those levels can partly be explained by the APS move to a ‘graduate’ workforce. Almost half of ongoing staff and two-thirds of new recruits in 2004 had graduate qualifications.140 However, APS employees with disability are less likely to have graduate qualifications than are other employees. At June 2005, 41.5% of employees with disability had a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared with the APS average of 49.9%.141 But while the difference in qualifications is likely to be a relevant historical factor, it will become less relevant over time as numbers of higher education students with disability increase.142

The increased APS emphasis on an educated workforce has been accompanied by a gradual compression of the classification structure. More than 55% of new recruits outside Canberra now enter the APS at the APS 3 or 4 levels.143 Increasingly, new recruits at those levels with prior experience will have an advantage over applicants without that experience. However, applicants with disability are less likely to have obtained part-time employment during the course of their studies, thus making it difficult for them to demonstrate their claims against the selection criteria.

APS positions are also increasingly filled by experienced mature-age workers, making it more difficult for applicants with disability to compete. More than 40% of new APS starters in 2003–04 were aged 35 or over, in contrast to fewer than 20% two decades ago. In 2003–04, almost half of recruits in this age group entered at the APS 5 level or higher. Similarly, more than 35% of EL and SES employees have worked in the APS for less than 10 years, with half of these joining the APS when aged 35 or over.144

The increased focus on multiskilling and broadbanding of APS classifications has also had an impact. Multiskilling and broadbanding have been accompanied by broad selection criteria and the expectation that applicants are not only qualified for the duties in question, but also have the capacity and potential to fill all positions within the broadband. Those expectations discourage applications from suitably qualified applicants with disability who cannot objectively determine whether they could meet the requirements of the advertised position.

Focus on individual performance

Changes to the APS classification structure have also been accompanied by a greater APS focus on individual performance and productivity. That focus has, among other things, resulted in APS employees with disability, particularly at the APS 3–4 and 5–6 levels, being more likely than other staff to receive redundancy packages.145

Anecdotal evidence also suggests that staff with disability feel ‘targeted’ for redundancy offers and ‘pressured into’ accepting those offers.146

Data collection and self-reporting

A contributing factor to the apparent decline in the numbers of people with disability in the APS is the tendency of some APS employees with disability not to report their disability status.

The results of the study of the reasons people choose not to disclose their disability status, undertaken as part of this review,147 suggest more could be done by agencies to improve their present data collection arrangements by encouraging a more accepting and supportive environment for people with disability which dispels concerns about discrimination and encourages greater self-reporting.

Resort to strategies for recruiting people with disability

Table 6.2 details the use made by agencies in 2004–05 of strategies to recruit people with disability under the decentralised employment arrangements devolved to agency heads on the enactment of the Public Service Act 1999.

Table 6.2: Agency strategies to recruit people with disability, 2004 to 2005
Recruitment strategy Number of agencies (N = 82)
in place being developed not in place
Source: State of the Service Report 2004–05, p. 218.
Special employment measures limiting employment opportunities only to persons with intellectual disability 1 0 81
Working with organisations that specialise in placing people with disability in employment 21 3 58
Providing opportunities for people with disability to gain skills and experience under an agency-based employment scheme 5 3 74
Providing assistance during the application process 48 3 31
Appropriate accommodation made to any testing situation 40 0 42
Training of selection panels in appropriate interviewing methods for people with disability 20 7 55
Providing information and/or access to advice on reasonable adjustment measures in the workplace 53 0 29
Seeking expert assessments on reasonable adjustment in relation to specific cases 38 0 44
Other 6 0 76

Twenty-one of the 82 agencies worked with organisations specialising in placing people with disability in employment; 48 provided assistance during the application process; and 53 provided information and/or access to advice on reasonable adjustment measures in the workplace. However, only five agencies provided opportunities for people with disability to gain skills and experience under an agency-based employment scheme in 2004–05 and only one agency used the special employment measures for people with intellectual disability.148 The absence of current guidance for agencies in administering those measures (outlined in Chapter 3) may have contributed to the decline in the numbers of APS employees with intellectual disability.149

The Public Service Commissioner (in consultation with other relevant agencies) will issue a circular to advise agencies about the availability of the existing special employment measures to raise awareness and usage.

6.3 Overseas and interstate comparisons

While a direct comparison is hard to make, the APS performance in employing people with disability does not fare well in comparison to that of international, as well as State and Territory, public sectors. Internationally, the APS employs a smaller proportion of people with disability than the New Zealand, United Kingdom, United States and Canadian public sectors. Locally, it trails the Queensland, Tasmanian, Victorian, New South Wales and ACT public sectors (see Appendix 3 for details).

6.4 Perceptions of APS staff with disability

The 2005 State of the Service Employee Survey also highlights differences between the perceptions of existing APS staff with disability and those without disability.

The survey asked respondents to indicate their level of agreement with the statement: My agency actively supports the employment, development and promotion of people with disability; 57% of respondents without disability agreed with the statement, compared with 47% of respondents with disability. This difference is consistent with the views of employees in other EEO groups, where members of the EEO group were more likely to believe their agency should be doing more to support them than were other employees.

The survey also asked whether employees thought their agency needed to do more or less to support the employment, development and promotion of people with disability; 51% of people with disability felt their agency needed to do more to support them, compared with 31% of people without disability.150

Other statistically significant differences between the two groups included:

  • 66% of respondents without disability (compared with 55% of respondents with disability) were proud to work in their current agency
  • 46% of respondents without disability (compared with 31% of respondents with disability) were satisfied with the overall say they had in decisions that impacted on their work
  • 70% of respondents without disability (compared with 59% of respondents with disability) agreed that, generally speaking, the most senior managers in their agency act in accordance with the APS Values
  • 78% of respondents without disability (compared with 65% of respondents with disability) agreed they receive appropriate training and/or have access to information that enables them to meet their client service responsibilities
  • 44% of respondents without disability (compared with 34% of respondents with disability) agreed their most recent performance review would help them to perform well
  • 68% of respondents without disability (compared with 57% of respondents with disability) agreed their workplace culture supported people to achieve a good work–life balance.151

People with disability were also more likely to disagree that their agency routinely applied merit in a number of employment decisions, including the engagement and promotion of staff, transfers from other agencies, transfers within agencies and temporary higher duties.

Whilst job satisfaction for people with disability has increased over the past few years, it is still significantly lower than for people without disability (although the six percentage point difference in 2004–05 is not statistically different).152 One quarter of people with disability selected career development as one of the most important job satisfaction factors (compared to 35% of people without disability).

However, people with disability reported higher levels of dissatisfaction with this factor. Similar proportions of people with and without disability included provision of regular feedback and recognition of effort and chances to be innovative and creative153 in their most important factors; nevertheless, people with disability reported higher levels of dissatisfaction with these factors. Participants in focus groups conducted as part of this review also cited a lack of career development opportunities, particularly where employees required reasonable adjustments such as part-time hours, as a concern.

Significantly fewer respondents with disability had applied for a job in the APS in the last year. Of those who did apply, 89% applied for a promotion (compared with 73% of people without disability). Of these employees, 22% were offered the job compared to 37% of respondents without disability.154

In summary, compared to people without disability, APS employees with disability tend to experience lower levels of overall job satisfaction, have lower levels of success when applying for jobs, and have lower perceptions of merit-based selection processes.155 Employees with disability also are more likely to report that they have less access to leadership development opportunities. These results suggest APS managers could do more to improve employment opportunities for people with disability.

6.5 Defining disability

6.5.1 Definition of ‘disability’

One reason why it is difficult to make comparisons across the whole of the APS and, ultimately, to accurately measure agencies’ performance in employing and retaining people with disability, is that there is no single definition of ‘disability’ used by agencies to develop recruitment and retention polices or to collect employee data.

The literature on the different definitions of ‘disability’ and their impact on policies, programmes and data collection arrangements is extensive.156 Much of it is beyond the scope of this report. Instead, the focus here is on two issues:

  1. what definition of ‘disability’ should the APS use to develop APS recruitment and retention policies?
  2. what definition of ‘disability’ should the APS use for employee data collection?
For APS recruitment and retention policies

To ensure a consistent conceptual framework for developing APS recruitment and retention policies, agencies are to adopt the definition of ‘disability’ in section 4 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 in developing those policies.

The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 defines disability as follows:

disability, in relation to a person, means:

  1. total or partial loss of the person’s bodily or mental functions
  2. total or partial loss of a part of the body
  3. the presence in the body of organisms causing disease or illness
  4. the presence in the body of organisms capable of causing disease or illness
  5. the malfunction, malformation or disfigurement of a part of the person’s body
  6. a disorder or malfunction that results in the person learning differently from a person without the disorder or malfunction
  7. a disorder, illness or disease that affects a person’s thought processes, perception of reality, emotions or judgment or that results in disturbed behaviour and includes a disability that:
  8. presently exists
  9. previously existed but no longer exists
  10. may exist in the future
  11. is imputed to a person.157

The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 is the most relevant Australian Government legislative framework related to disability, and the definition of disability it adopts is deliberately broad and inclusive. The aim of the definition is to ensure cases brought under the Act focus on the alleged discrimination rather than becoming bogged down contesting the applicant’s disability status. The definition is also consistent with a ‘social model’ approach highlighting physical and attitudinal barriers while, at the same time, based on a medical approach that includes a mix of impairments, diseases and disorders.158

For employee data collection

However, while the breadth of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 definition ensures it is conceptually strong and thus appropriate to guide overall policy and direction, it can be difficult to operationalise at the practical process of data collection. It would be difficult, for example, to collect data on disabilities ‘imputed to a person’.

For this reason, agencies are to use the definition of disability adopted by the ABS in its 2003 Disability, Ageing and Carers Survey, to collect data and statistical information from APS employees. That definition provides the basis for the most recent data used by analysts in Australia. Its comprehensiveness and clarity make it easy to use in practice and thus provides the best opportunity to maximise self-reporting.159

According to the ABS definition:

… a person has a disability if they report that they have a limitation, restriction or impairment, which has lasted, or is likely to last, for at least 6 months and restricts everyday activities. This includes:

  • loss of sight (not corrected by glasses or contact lenses)
  • loss of hearing where communication is restricted, or an aid to assist with, substitute for, hearing is used
  • speech difficulties
  • shortness of breath or breathing difficulties causing restriction
  • chronic or recurrent pain or discomfort causing restriction
  • blackouts, fits, or loss of consciousness
  • difficulty learning or understanding
  • incomplete use of arms or fingers
  • difficulty gripping or holding things
  • incomplete use of feet or legs
  • nervous or emotional condition causing restriction
  • restriction in physical activities or in doing physical work
  • disfigurement or deformity
  • mental illness or condition requiring help or supervision
  • long-term effects of head injury, stroke or other brain damage causing restriction
  • receiving treatment or medication for any other long-term conditions or ailments and still restricted
  • any other long-term conditions resulting in a restriction.160

In adopting both the Disability Discrimination Act and the ABS 2003 definitions of disability, this report acknowledges the views expressed about the perceived inherent problems with both definitions. Some peak representative groups do not agree that the Disability Discrimination Act definition reflects a social model.161

Others feel that neither definition adequately covers depression and related illnesses such as anxiety and other behavioural and emotional disorders.162

On balance, however, the current Disability Discrimination Act and ABS 2003 definitions are preferred as they do appear sufficiently broad to cover all medical conditions, whether or not readily diagnosed or recognised and it is undesirable to develop yet another definition of disability.

6.5.2 APS data collection arrangements

To ensure consistent APS-wide data collection, and to allow meaningful comparisons of that data across the APS as a whole, agencies are to collect details of the disability status of their employees, by asking the following two questions:

Question one
‘Do you have a disability?’ [referring respondents to the ABS definition of disability as proposed on the sample page following] Yes / No

Question two
‘Do you have an ongoing disability that requires a work-related adjustment?’ Yes / No

Incorporating both questions allows agencies to differentiate between the numbers of staff who identify themselves as having a disability and the numbers whose disability requires reasonable adjustments to be made to the workplace. They allow agencies to identify the steps they need to take to support their employees with disability. Having the second question, alone, is not recommended because some people with disability not requiring immediate work-related adjustment, such as people with depression or other episodic illness, may not feel encouraged to report their disability.

To encourage employees to identify, agencies are to not only ask for this information when the employee is first engaged, but to regularly offer employees the opportunity to update their status.

Some participants in the focus groups carried out as part of this review indicated that, although they had responded ‘YES’ to the question of whether or not they had a disability, there was no follow up by their respective agencies. Agencies should follow up all employees who report a disability, to ensure their reasonable adjustment needs are identified and that they are familiar with the support arrangements available to them.163

Sample page APS agencies are to include in their data

Collection questionnaire

Question one

Do you have a disability*? YES / NO

*for data collection purposes, all APS agencies use the Australian Bureau of Statistics Disability, Ageing and Carers: Summary of Findings 2003 definition, according to which

‘… a person has a disability if they report that they have a limitation, restriction or impairment, which has lasted, or is likely to last, for at least 6 months and restricts everyday activities. This includes:

  • loss of sight (not corrected by glasses or contact lenses);
  • loss of hearing where communication is restricted, or an aid to assist with, substitute for, hearing is used;
  • speech difficulties;
  • shortness of breath or breathing difficulties causing restriction;
  • chronic or recurrent pain or discomfort causing restriction;
  • blackouts, fits, or loss of consciousness;
  • difficulty learning or understanding;
  • incomplete use of arms or fingers;
  • difficulty gripping or holding things;
  • incomplete use of feet or legs;
  • nervous or emotional condition causing restriction;
  • restriction in physical activities or in doing physical work;
  • disfigurement or deformity;
  • mental illness or condition requiring help or supervision;
  • long-term effects of head injury, stroke or other brain damage causing restriction;
  • receiving treatment or medication for any other long-term conditions or ailments and still restricted;
  • any other long-term conditions resulting in a restriction.’
Question two

Do you have an ongoing disability that requires a work-related adjustment? YES / NO

6.5.3 APSED data collection

The Australian Public Service Commission will continue to collect data on APS employees with disability from individual agencies, through existing APSED arrangements. APSED will also adapt its definition to match the ABS definition of disability. The two definitions are very similar, hence time series comparisons will not be compromised.

Some APS agency representatives suggested it might be more desirable for APS employees to provide their individual information directly to the Australian Public Service Commission (rather than through their agencies) as employees may be more likely to reveal their disability in those circumstances. This approach is not recommended. Monitoring workforce trends is an agency responsibility. In addition, the value of the information, on balance, is that it allows agencies to identify those staff who may require reasonable adjustments and to arrange those adjustments directly with them. Hence agencies are encouraged to foster a culture within the organisation in which employees with disability feel comfortable disclosing their disability.

While, for the reasons outlined above, direct data collection by agencies is preferable, the Australian Public Service Commission is considering supplementing agencies’ collection of voluntary data, including disability status.164 The Commission could contact APS employees for whom the voluntary data variables in APSED have not been provided (about 30% of APS employees overall). It is anticipated that this supplementary data collection, in order to improve the quality and integrity of APSED data, would be an annual exercise,165 and that the data collected will be provided to agencies.166

6.5.4 Advising staff why disability data is collected and how it is used

A consistent definition of disability will not, by itself, overcome the under-reporting of disability. Staff (particularly those with mental illness) can be reluctant to identify they have a disability because of past experience with, or fear of, discrimination. The experience of the Mental Health Council of Australia, for example, is that in the past 12 months every person who contacted the Council, who was suffering a psychiatric disorder and had disclosed their disability, had suffered some form of discrimination.167 The results of the study undertaken as part of this review of the reasons people choose not to disclose their disability status (detailed in Chapter 6) confirm these findings.

Cultural change that results in a more accepting and supportive environment for employees with disability should result in greater self-reporting over time.

In the meantime, a clear written statement about why personal and employment data (including data on disability) is being collected and how it will be used, will go some way to addressing the existing concerns of people with disability around disclosure. Information Privacy Principle 2, set out in section 15 of the Privacy Act 1988, requires that agencies take steps to ensure employees are generally aware of those matters. Calls for a written statement of this nature were made often enough in focus groups to indicate that employees are likely to find a written confirmation reassuring.

Agencies are to incorporate a written statement of this nature when collecting information from employees. The Australian Public Service Commission’s information sheet, Your Privacy and the Australian Public Service Employment Database (APSED),168 will assist agencies in developing a written statement that is specific to their particular circumstances.

6.6 Measuring progress—the goal of ‘continuous improvement’

Agencies are being asked to demonstrate continuous improvement in recruiting and retaining people with disability.169

6.6.1 Is there a role for targets?

The view of some of those consulted as part of this review (including some employees with disability, representatives of disability advocacy groups, private sector employers and officers of State government organisations) is that there is unlikely to be a significant increase in the numbers of employees with disability in the APS until specific targets or benchmarks are set and pursued seriously and systematically by individual agencies.170

One of the strengths of pursuing a target is the significant role this plays in achieving cultural change by raising awareness and advancing the valuable contribution employees with disability can make.

On the other hand, a major difficulty is determining what that target should be.

Some organisations (including IBM) set a target that reflects the proportion of people with disability in the total population (currently around 20%). Others set different targets. In 1997, the NSW Government announced a ‘benchmark’ of 12% of employees with disability, and 7% of employees requiring some sort of work-related adjustment. In 2005, the ACT Government announced a 50% ‘target’ for graduates with disability in its 2006 graduate intake.171

There is also the risk a focus on achieving a target may come at the expense of truly effective steps to address the underlying issue. European experience suggests some organisations meet targets by employing people with ‘minor’ disability at the expense of people with more ‘serious’ disability that requires more complex and focused attention.172 Similarly, targets may also contribute to underemployment, that is, employing people with disability simply to ‘boost the numbers’ rather than appointing them to a position which closely matches their demonstrated skills and ability.

Another difficulty is the issue of sanctions to be imposed if targets are not met, particularly the nature of penalties that can be appropriately applied to public sector agencies. While the damage to the reputation of an agency which failed to meet a target could, on occasions, be a powerful ‘sanction’, on balance, the setting of a target was not considered practical.

6.7 Reporting progress

Australian and overseas experience suggests regular reporting on, and monitoring of, organisational performance contributes to effective cultural transformation and attitudinal change.173

The 2005 State of the Service Agency and Employee Surveys incorporated a number of questions relating to the employment of people with disability.174 Responses to surveys of this kind provide useful insights into the numbers of employees with disability in the APS, as well as useful qualitative information on the barriers and difficulties experienced by people with disability and current practices and strategies to address them.

The Australian Public Service Commission will continue to survey agencies and APS employees on issues relating to disability and the Public Service Commissioner will report on the recruitment and retention of employees with disability in the State of the Service Report.

In light of the outcomes of the 2008–09 State of the Service Report, the Management Advisory Committee, through the Australian Public Service Commission, will review the achievements and progress of APS agencies at that time. 

Appendix 1

Contributors to the report

This report was prepared by a project team located in the Australian Public Service Commission under the supervision of a Deputy Secretaries’ Group reporting to the Management Advisory Committee.

Deputy Secretaries’ Group
  • Mr Stephen Hunter (Chair)
    Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs
  • Mr Graham Bashford
    Centrelink
  • Mr Graham Carters
    Department of Employment and Workplace Relations
  • Mr Ed Killesteyn
    Department of Veterans’ Affairs
  • Dr Roger Lough
    Department of Defence
  • Ms Lynne Tacy
    Australian Public Service Commission
Project team
  • Ms Brenda Berkeley
    Department of the Treasury
  • Ms Kate Dawson
    Department of Defence
  • Dr Loucas Nicolaou
    Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs

The Management Advisory Committee recognises the support provided by the Departments of the Treasury, Defence, and Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs in providing the services of the above officers to undertake this review.

The project team also received substantial assistance from many officers in the Australian Public Service Commission, including Ms Lexie Brans.

Staff focus group participants

The Management Advisory Committee is grateful for the contributions made by all APS employees with disability who participated in the focus group discussions and other individual interviews, carried out as part of this review between November 2005 and May 2006.

Organisations consulted

The organisations listed below have also provided significant support for the review.

APS agencies
  • Attorney General’s Department (AGD)
  • Australian Public Service Commission
  • Australian Taxation Office (ATO)
  • Centrelink
  • Comcare
  • Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service (CRS) Australia
  • Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF)
  • Department of Defence (Defence)
  • Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (DEWR)
  • Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaCSIA)
  • Department of Finance and Administration (Finance)
  • Department of Health and Ageing (Health)
  • Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C)
  • Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA)
  • Department of the Treasury (Treasury)
  • Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC)
  • Office of the Employment Advocate (OEA)
State/Territory Government Agencies
  • ACT Government - Chief Minister’s Department
  • NSW State Government - Department of Education and Training (Disability Programmes)
  • NSW State Government - Premier’s Department (Employment Equity & Diversity, Public Employment Office)
  • Queensland Government - Office of Public Service Merit and Equity (OPSME)
  • Victorian State Government - Department of Human Services
Private Sector Agencies
  • Coles Myer
  • IBM Australia Limited
  • Telstra
Other organisations
  • ACROD—National Industry Association for Disability Services
  • ACT Disability Advisory Council (ACT DAC)
  • Advance Personnel (ACT)
  • Association of Competitive Employment (Ace) National Network
  • Australian Association of the Deaf (AAD)
  • Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations
  • Australian Federation of Deaf Societies (AFDS)
  • Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO) beyondblue—The National Depression Initiative
  • Blind Citizens Australia (BCA)
  • Brain Injury Australia (BIA)
  • Deafness Forum Australia (DFA)
  • Disability Employment Action Centre (DEAC) Legal Services
  • Diversity @ Work
  • Disability Works Australia
  • The Australian Employers’ Network on Disability: Employers Making a Difference Inc. (EMD)
  • Erebus International (EI)
  • Intellectual Disability Rights Service (IDRS)
  • Job Solve (ACT—NETA Member)
  • Mental Health Council of Australia (MHCA)
  • National Council of Intellectual Disability (NCID)
  • National Employment Services Association (NESA)
  • National Ethnic Disability Alliance (NEDA)
  • Network of Employment and Training Agencies (NETA)
  • NSW Council for Intellectual Disability (NSW CID)
  • Physical Disability Council of Australia (PDCA)
  • Regional Disability Liaison Officer/Disability Coordination Officer Canberra and Region—ACT NETA Member (RDLO/DCO)
  • Willing and Able Mentoring Program (W&AM)
  • Work-Ways (ACT—NETA Member)
Related reviews

A number of reviews on related topics have recently been conducted, including:

  • the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission’s National Inquiry into Employment and Disability175
  • the evaluation of the Commonwealth Disability Strategy commissioned by the Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs176
  • the Employers’ Roundtable for People with Disabilities established by the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations177
  • in 2004, the Productivity Commission’s Review of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992.178

The present review did not attempt to revisit the issues examined in those reviews but instead focused on the particular barriers faced by people with disability in securing employment in the APS and, once employed, realising their full career potential. It also examined practical actions the APS can take to eliminate those barriers.

Appendix 2

Terms of reference

1. To examine the factors impacting on the recruitment and retention of people with disability in the APS in order to identify:

  • the barriers to recruiting people with disability to the APS as well as the measures that are most effective in recruiting people with disability to the APS
  • impediments to people with disability remaining within the APS (including factors such as discrimination, nature of work, flexibility of the workplace, access to flexible working options) as well as the measures that are most effective in encouraging people with disability to remain within the APS
  • the measures that have been most effective in encouraging APS employees generally to best support APS employees with disability
  • the structural issues (for example, funding reasonable adjustment) affecting employer attitudes to the employment of people with disability
  • the impact of technology on the employment of people with disability in the APS
  • the adequacy and nature of the data which agencies collect relating to applicants for APS positions and APS employees with disability.

2. To recommend actions to:

  • increase the level of employment in the APS of people with disability
  • improve the capacity of APS agencies to monitor performance through improved data relating to the employment of people with disability.

Appendix 3

Overseas and interstate comparisons

International comparisons

In general, OECD comparisons of working-age disability policies and practices conclude that ‘no single country can be said to have a particularly successful policy for disabled people’.179

International data also suggests public sector employers have mixed success in employing people with disability. It is difficult to directly compare other countries and Australia as data collection methods (including the definition of disability) and the currency of that data, vary widely. Thus, the following discussion uses international data as indicative only.

  • In New Zealand—in a better than average international public sector performance—10% of New Zealand public servants in 2000 reported having a disability.180 Initiatives adopted by the New Zealand public sector include a supported employment scheme (‘Main Stream’) to facilitate employment for people with significant disability.181
  • In the United Kingdom (UK), people with disability represented 4.2% of the UK Civil Service in April 2004,182 compared with 3.6% in 1999.183 The UK Civil Service has a comprehensive 10 Point Plan for cultural change, including a target of 3.2% of people with disability in the Senior Civil Service by 2008. The rate is currently 2.9%. The plan focuses on building accountability for diversity through a Diversity Champions Network, comprising members at senior levels.184
  • In Ireland, the civil service set a 3% employment target in 1977. The percentage of staff with disability rose from 1.5% in 1986 to 3% in 1993. More recent figures, however, show the overall percentage of staff with disability fell to 2.7% of the total number employed as at April 1999. Initiatives include a central committee to monitor progress towards the 3% target, and special selection exercises for people with disability.185
  • In Canada, people with disability represented 5.7% of all Canadian public servants in 2000,186 up from 3.1% in 1996–97.187 Critical success factors in 2002–03 were accountability, cultural change, and the integration of employment equity into business practices and partnerships to exchange ideas, expertise, and successful practices.188
  • In the United States’ executive branch of government, 7% of employees reported having a disability in 2003, down slightly from 7.3% in 1996.189 The employment of people with disability in the Federal Public Service is underpinned by legislation supporting affirmative action.190 Strategies include a one-stop shop for federal employees and managers, special placement coordinators to provide advice to senior managers, training in disability-related issues, and a range of publications.
Comparisons with State and Territory public services

While a direct comparison is hard to make, there are some differences in the performance between the APS and some State and Territory governments in employing people with disability (Table A3.1).

Table A3.1: Representation of people with disability in state/territory public services
State/Territory % of workforce with disability
Queensland 9.7191
Tasmania 7.0192
Victoria 6.3193
New South Wales 5.0194
ACT 4.0195
APS 3.8196
South Australia 2.6197
Northern Territory 1.8198
WA 1.7* 199

Note: A direct comparison is difficult as different definitions of ‘disability’ are used by the APS and the respective states and territories. the figures for some states and territories include local government employment figures while wa and sa statistics count only those people with disability who require reasonable adjustment in the workplace.

The state service with the highest performance, Queensland, promotes the employment of people with disability through its relationship with the National Disability Recruitment Coordinator to assist agencies to employ people with disability; awareness training for managers; the use of identified positions to increase the employment of people with disability; and traineeships for a range of long-term unemployed including people with disability.200

Other states have adopted many of the same strategies. Other common initiatives include the use of recruitment handbooks; one-stop shops on websites and whole of government strategies to increase the employment of people with disability.

Glossary

AIATSIS
Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies
ABS
Australian Bureau of Statistics
ACCC
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
ACIAR
Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research
ACROD
National Industry Association for Disability Services
AGIMO
Australian Government Information Management Office
AIHW
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
ANAO
Australian National Audit Office
AOFM
Australian Office of Financial Management
APS
Australian Public Service
APSED
Australian Public Service Employment Database
ARPANSA
Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency
ASIC
Australian Securities and Investments Commission
ATO
Australian Taxation Office
AUSAID
Australian Agency for International Development
AUSLAN
Australian Sign Language
AWAs
Australian workplace agreements
BoM
Bureau of Meteorology
CEIs
Chief executive instructions
COAG
Council of Australian Governments
Commonwealth DPP
Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions
CRS
CRS Australia
DCITA
Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts
Defence
Department of Defence
DEST
Department of Education, Science and Training
DEWR
Department of Employment and Workplace Relations
DFAT
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
DHS
Department of Human Services
DIMIA
Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs
DOTARS
Department of Transport and Regional Services
DVA
Department of Veterans’ Affairs
EEO
Equal employment opportunity
EL
Executive Level
FaCSIA
Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs
Family Court
Family Court of Australia
Finance
Department of Finance and Administration
FSANZ
Food Standards Australia New Zealand
GBRMPA
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority
Health
Department of Health and Ageing
HR
Human resources
HREOC
Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission
ICT
Information and communications technology
IDAP
Intellectual Disability Access Program
IT
Information technology
ITSA
Insolvency and Trustee Service Australia
MAC
Management Advisory Committee
MRT/RRT
Migration Review Tribunal / Refugee Review Tribunal
NEDA
National Ethnic Disability Alliance
NOPSA
National Offshore Petroleum Safety Authority
NWC
National Water Commission
OECD
Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development
OHS
Occupational health and safety
SES
Senior Executive Service

  1. For further details of the better practice strategies outlined in Objective 1, see Chapter 2 of this report.
  2. For further details of the better practice strategies outlined in Objective 2, see Chapter 3 of this report.
  3. For further details of the better practice strategies outlined in Objective 3, see Chapter 3 of this report.
  4. For further details of the better practice strategies outlined in Objective 4, see Chapter 3 of this report.
  5. AGIMO, Assistive Technology for Employees of Australian Government, Better Practice Checklist No. 22 <www.agimo.gov.au/practice/delivery/checklists/assistive>
  6. For further details of the better practice strategies outlined in Objective 5, see Chapter 4 of this report.
  7. For further details of the better practice strategies outlined in Objective 6, see Chapter 5 of this report.
  8. For further details of the better practice strategies outlined in Objective 7, see Chapter 6 of this report.
  9. For further details of the better practice strategies outlined in Objective 8, see Chapter 6 of this report.
  10. The Treasurer 2002, Budget Paper No. 5, 2002–03, Intergenerational Report 2002–03, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra.
  11. Productivity Commission 2005, Economic Implications of an Ageing Australia, Productivity Commission, Canberra.
  12. See Australian Jobs 2006 <www.workplace.gov.au/workplace/Category/Publications/LabourMarketAnalysis/AustralianJobs.htm>; <jobguide.thegoodguides.com.au/skillsShortages.cfm>; <www.zdnet.com.au>
  13. Management Advisory Committee 2005, Managing and Sustaining the APS Workforce, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, p. 1.
  14. See the discussion in Chapter 1 of this report.
  15. Section 10(1) of the Public Service Act 1999.
  16. Section 13 of the Public Service Act 1999.
  17. Paragraph 10(1)(c) of the Public Service Act 1999.
  18. Paragraph 10(1)(b) of the Public Service Act 1999.
  19. Paragraph 10(1)(l) of the Public Service Act 1999.
  20. Paragraph 10(1)(m) of the Public Service Act 1999.
  21. Section 13(11) of the Public Service Act 1999.
  22. Sections 12 and 35(2)(c) of the Public Service Act 1999.
  23. Paragraph 29(3)(g) of the Public Service Act 1999.
  24. Stressed in interviews conducted for this review with many stakeholders (including private sector organisations such as IBM and Telstra, and many disability advocacy groups identified in Appendix 1). It is also emphasised in J. Graffam et al, ‘Employer Benefits and Costs of Employing a Person with a Disability’, Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, Vol. 17, 2002, pp. 251–63; and J. Graffam et al, ‘Factors that Influence Employer Decisions in Hiring and Retaining an Employee with a Disability’, Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, Vol. 17, 2002, pp. 175–81. Acknowledging and responding to the cultural and linguistic diversity of people with disability is also particularly relevant in this context. People with disability from non-English speaking backgrounds experience additional inequity due to linguistic and cultural differences (interview in December 2005, and the National Ethnic Disability Alliance’s (NEDA) Submission to HREOC’s Inquiry into Employment with Disability, October 2005).
  25. Section 13(4) of the Public Service Act 1999.
  26. Graffam et al, ‘Employer Benefits and Costs of Employing a Person with a Disability’ and ‘Factors that Influence Employer Decisions in Hiring and Retaining an Employee with a Disability’; J. Graffam, ‘Good News and Good Business’, Disparity, Summer, 2002, pp. 10–12.
  27. Interviews with Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission staff for this review (March 2006).
  28. Section 3 of the Workplace Relations Act 1996.
  29. F. Hansen, ‘Diversity’s Business Case Doesn’t Add Up’, Workforce, April 2003, pp. 28–32; and ‘Tracking the Value of Diversity Programs’, Workforce, p. 31 <www.workforce.com/section/11/feature/23/42/49/index.html>; Graffam, ‘Good News and Good Business’.
  30. Figures provided by the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations Disability Policy Branch, 2006.
  31. Australian Bureau of Statistics 2004, Disability, Ageing and Carers: Summary of Findings 2003, Tables 1 and 8, pp. 15 and 26.
  32. CRS Australia’s strength is job matching the person with disability to the job (rather than just placing a person into a vacancy) and then supporting the person and employer for another thirteen weeks to ensure a smooth placement (interviews with CRS Australia Service Delivery Support staff, March 2006).
  33. In 1996, 1.9% (11,656) of the 600,061 students reported a disability. In 2004, that number had increased to 3.7% (24,593) (Department of Education, Science and Training 2006, Commencing and All Domestic Students by Equity Group, 1995 to 2004 (Appendix 3.1)).
  34. Regional Disability Liaison Officer and Disability Coordination Officer 2005, Submission to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission National Inquiry into Employment and Disability 2005, April, pp. 3–4.
  35. Steering Committee for the Review of Government Service Provision 2006, Report on Government Services 2006, Productivity Commission, Canberra, pp. 4.5, 4.29 and 4.32.
  36. Graffam et al, ‘Employer Benefits and Costs of Employing a Person with a Disability’. Similar results were identified in a study conducted for Telstra in 1999 which concluded that people with disability worked on average 4.1 years in a call centre, compared to 3.2 years for people without disability; people with disability were absent for 11.8 days, compared to people without disability who were absent for 19.24 days over a 15-month period; and that there were no significant differences in the areas of performance, productivity and sales (see the JobAccess website <www.jobaccess.gov.au/JOAC/Employers/Disabilities+and+work+strategies/Benefits_to_ business.htm>)
  37. Graffam et al, ‘Employer Benefits and Costs of Employing a Person with a Disability’, p. 256; Graffam, ‘Good News and Good Business’, p. 12.
  38. For instance, according to Graffam et al, ‘Employer Benefits and Costs of Employing a Person with a Disability’, the European Trade Union Committee reported in 1995 that 50% of the accommodations resulting from the Americans with Disability Act cost employers less than $US500 per employee, with even lower costs being reported in surveys carried out by the Job Accommodation Network in 1994.
  39. Graffam et al, ‘Employer Benefits and Costs of Employing a Person with a Disability’, pp. 256–7.
  40. Management Advisory Committee 2003, Organisational Renewal, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, p. 1.
  41. Paragraph 10(1)(b) of the Public Service Act 1999.
  42. Australian Public Service Commission 2005, State of the Service Report 2004–05, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, p. 24.
  43. Section 10(2) of the Public Service Act 1999.
  44. Section 10(2) of the Public Service Act 1999.
  45. The obligation to make reasonable adjustments, while not expressly imposed by the Disability Discrimination Act 1992, arises as a consequence of the operation of section 6 of that Act relating to indirect discrimination. See a discussion of the obligation to make reasonable adjustments and the form those adjustments should take in the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission’s guide, Employment and the Disability Discrimination Act <www.humanrights.gov.au/disability_rights/faq/Employment/employment_contents.html>
  46. Australian Public Service Commission 2003, Embedding the APS Values, p. 9 <http://www.apsc.gov.au/values/values8.htm>. See also Australian Public Service Commission, Embedding the APS Values Framework and Checklist <www.apsc.gov.au/values/framework.htm>
  47. Agency heads are required by section 18 of the Public Service Act 1999 to establish workplace diversity programmes.
  48. Australian Public Service Commission 2005, State of the Service Report 2004–05, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, p. 191.
  49. See the discussion in Chapter 6 of this report.
  50. Adapted from The Employers’ Forum on Disability 2005, The Disability Standard 2005: Benchmark Report Summary, ‘What Does “Disability Confident” Mean?’, London, p. 7 < www.employers-forum.co.uk/www/index.htm>
  51. See the discussion in Chapters 1 and 2 of this report.
  52. The results of the State of the Service Employee Survey 2004–05 indicate that a significantly higher proportion of APS employees with disability were unemployed prior to joining the APS than were employees without disability (Australian Public Service Commission 2005, State of the Service Employee Survey Results—Unpublished Data, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra).
  53. Australian Public Service Commission, State of the Service Reports, 2003–04 (2004), 2004–05 (2005), Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra.
  54. Australian Public Service Commission 2005, State of the Service Report 2004–05, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, p. 218.
  55. Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission 2005, Interim Report of the National Inquiry into Employment and Disability, HREOC, Sydney.
  56. Australian Public Service Commission 2005, State of the Service Employee Survey Results—Unpublished Data, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra. Note: Of people who applied for a position, people with disability were significantly more likely than people without disability to apply for promotion (89% compared with 73%).
  57. Also known as Disability Employment Assistance. Details of the Disability Employment Network are available at: <www.jobaccess.gov.au/JOAC/Employers/Getting+advice+and+support/DisabilityEmploymentNetwo.htm>
  58. <www.workplace.gov.au/workplace/Category/SchemesInitiatives/DOES/> The website was viewed on 10 March 2006.
  59. For details see Chapter 3 of the Request for Tender for Disability Open Employment Services (Uncapped Stream) issued by DEWR and available at: <www.workplace.gov.au/ NR/rdonlyres/>
  60. Disability Works Australia 2005, Practical Solutions to Increase Employer Demand for Workers with a Disability, Disability Works Australia Ltd. Briefing Paper, p. 4.
  61. Australian Public Service Commission 2005, State of the Service Report 2004–05, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, p. 218.
  62. Australian Public Service Commission 2005, State of the Service Report 2004–05, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, pp. 87–8.
  63. Department of Finance and Administration 2005, Guidance on Complying with Legislation and Government Policy in Procurement January 2005, Financial Management Guidance No. 10, p. 5 <www.finance.gov.au/ctc/complying_with_legislation_g.html>
  64. Australian Public Service Commission 2005, State of the Service Report 2004–05, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, p. 88.
  65. Australian Public Service Commission 2005, State of the Service Report 2004–05, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, p. 218.
  66. A personal experience relayed by a focus group participant.
  67. Personal experiences relayed by focus group participants.
  68. Australian Public Service Commission 2005, State of the Service Report 2004–05, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, p. 218.
  69. Management Advisory Committee 2005, Managing and Sustaining the APS Workforce, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, p. 1.
  70. Review Team meeting with IBM (8 February 2006).
  71. See regulation 3.3 of the Public Service Regulations 1999. Schemes must be approved by the agency head and notice of the approval must be published in the Australian Public Service Gazette within 14 days (regulation 3.3 (2)). When gazetting such schemes, agencies should consider including brief details of the scheme (for example, what it is intended to do, who is eligible, how people are selected, the nature of the non-ongoing appointment (term or task), and any special terms or conditions of employment).
  72. Details of the approximately 200 Disability Open Employment Service Providers, across Australia, are available at: <jobsearch.gov.au/public/providers/generic/default.aspx?provider=DOE>
  73. Australian Public Service Commission 2005, State of the Service Report 2004–05, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, p. 218.
  74. Review team discussions with members of the Queensland and NSW Governments.
  75. Quote from a Willing and Able Mentoring Program participant provided by the Willing and Able Mentoring Program Coordinator at the interview (February 2006).
  76. Quote from a Willing and Able Mentoring Program participant provided by the Willing and Able Mentoring Program Coordinator at the interview (February 2006).
  77. See the Willing and Able Mentoring Program website <www.graduatecareers.com.au/content/view/full/318>
  78. Management Advisory Committee 2005, Managing and Sustaining the APS Workforce, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, p. 49.
  79. Made under Sections 11(1), 15(4) and 36 of the Public Service Act 1999.
  80. The Disability Employment Enhancement Scheme was established as a prescribed scheme under regulation 122 of the Public Service Regulations 1999 (made under the Public Service Act 1922) on 21 June 1994 (with a commencement date of 1 July 1994).
  81. Advice on the current operation of the Supported Wage System is available at: <www.jobaccess.gov.au/JOAC/Employers/Employer+incentives/SupportedWageSystem.htm>
  82. ‘Public Service Commission Draft Guidelines on Access to Employment in the Australian Public Service for People with Disability Using the Supported Wage System’, 1995, pp. 10–11.
  83. Chapter 3, Part 1(e) of the Prime Minister’s Public Service Directions 1999 provides that an agency head may engage a person ‘under the scheme known as the Disability Employment Enhancement Scheme’. These directions are made under section 21(1) of the Public Service Act 1999.
  84. Australian Public Service Commission 2005, State of the Service Report 2004–2005, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, p. 218.
  85. Details of the approximately 200 Disability Open Employment Service Providers, across Australia, are available at: <www.jobaccess.gov.au/JOAC/Employers/Getting+advice+and+support/AustralianGovernmentEmplo.htm/>
  86. Australian Public Service Commission 2005, State of the Service Report 2004–05, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, p. 221. Information is not provided on small and medium agencies. The State of the Service Report only includes agency-level results of large agencies that met the minimum number of weighted responses. The medium portfolio departments and the Commission are not included in any agency-level analysis in the report.
  87. This is discussed in Chapter 5 of this report.
  88. For a discussion of reasonable adjustment see Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, Employment and the Disability Discrimination Act, pp. 10–19 <www.humanrights.gov.au/disability_rights/faq/Employment/employment_contents.html>
  89. Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, Employment and the Disability Discrimination Act, pp. 13–14 <www.humanrights.gov.au/disability_rights/faq/Employment/employment_contents.html>
  90. Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission 2005, Interim Report of the National Inquiry into Employment and Disability, HREOC, Sydney.
  91. Australian Public Service Commission 2005, State of the Service Report 2004–05, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, p. 220.
  92. Australian Public Service Commission 2005, State of the Service Employee Survey Results—Unpublished Data, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, p. 28.
  93. Focus groups held with employees from 12 agencies as part of this review (December 2005–February 2006).
  94. Management Advisory Committee 2003, Organisational Renewal, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra.
  95. Focus groups of APS employees with disability conducted for this review (December 2005–February 2006)
  96. AGIMO, Assistive Technology for Employees of Australian Government, Better Practice Checklist No. 22.
  97. Clause 2.11(1) of the Public Service Commissioner’s Directions, 1999.
  98. Clause 3.3(b) of the Public Service Commissioner’s Directions, 1999.
  99. Australian Public Service Commission 2005, State of the Service Report 2004–05, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, pp. 233–42.
  100. Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts 2006, Telework for Australian Employees and Businesses: Maximising the Economic and Social Benefits of Flexible Working Practice, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra.
  101. Focus groups conducted as part of this review (December 2005–February 2006).
  102. Discussions with the Office of the Employment Advocate (December 2005; March 2006).
  103. Australian Public Service Commission 2005, State of the Service Employee Survey Results—Unpublished Data, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, p. 36.
  104. Australian Public Service Commission 2005, State of the Service Employee Survey Results—Unpublished Data, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, p. 38. However, it should be noted that overall, satisfaction with access to leadership development opportunities did not differ between people with disability (25% satisfied) and people without disability (26% satisfied). Thus the difference in participation rates could be due to a classification effect as higher proportions of people with disability are concentrated in the APS 1–6 classification groups.
  105. Australian Public Service Commission 2005, State of the Service Employee Survey Results—Unpublished Data, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, p. 27.
  106. Consultations with employees and agencies as part of this review (December 2005–February 2006). 
  107. Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission 2005, WORKability II: Solutions—People with Disability in the Open Workplace, HREOC, Sydney.
  108. Interviews with IBM as part of this review (December 2005; February 2006).
  109. Consultations with agencies and employees as part of this review (December 2005–February 2006).
  110. Focus groups with employees conducted for this review (December 2005–February 2006).
  111. Details of the Workplace Modification Scheme are available at: <www.jobaccess.gov.au/JOAC/Employers/ Employer+incentives/Workplace_Modifications_S.htm>
  112. JobAccess can be accessed at: <www.jobaccess.gov.au/JOAC/home>
  113. Focus groups conducted with employees for this review (December 2005–February 2006)
  114. The policies can be obtained from the Disability Coordinator of FaCSIA (Ph. 02 6200 9669).
  115. <www.psm.act.gov.au/publicationsaz.htm#R>; <www.opsme.qld.gov.au/ee/pubs/diverse_two.pdf> ; <http://www.eeo.nsw.gov.au/>
  116. Graffam et al, ‘Employer Benefits and Costs of Employing a Person with a Disability’. See the discussion of this study in Chapter 1 of this report. Some similar results were also identified in a study conducted for Telstra in 1999 which concluded that people with disability worked on average 4.1 years in a call centre, compared to 3.2 years for people without disability; people with disability had 11.8 days absent, compared to people without disability who had 19.24 days absent, over a 15 month-period; and that there were no significant differences when comparing people with disability to people without disability in the areas of performance, productivity and sales <www.jobaccess.gov.au/JOAC/Employers/ Disabilities+and+work+strategies/Benefits_to_business.htm>
  117. Graffam et al, ‘Employer Benefits and Costs of Employing a Person with a Disability’.
  118. Australian Public Service Commission 2005, State of the Service Report 2004–05, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, p. 170.
  119. For details see <www.jobaccess.gov.au/JOAC/Employers/ Employer+incentives/SupportedWageSystem.htm>
  120. Advice on the operation of the Supported Wage System is available at: <www.jobaccess.gov.au/JOAC/Employers/ Employer+incentives/SupportedWageSystem.htm>
  121. For details see <www.jobaccess.gov.au/ JOAC/Coworkers/How+to+guides/Advice_and_support.htm>
  122. At its 17th meeting on 10 February 2006, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) discussed mental health as an issue of national significance, treating it as a major problem for the Australian community. Later in 2006, COAG is to consider an action plan determining COAG’s future direction in this area <www.coag.gov.au/meetings/100206/index.htm>
  123. N. Highet 2005, The National Depression in the Workplace Program, beyondblue: The National Depression Initiative, Melbourne; I. Hickie, G. Groom and T. Davenport 2004, Investing in Australia’s Future: The Personal, Social and Economic Benefits of Good Mental Health, Mental Health Council of Australia and Brain & Mind Research Institute, Canberra.
  124. Highet, The National Depression in the Workplace Program, beyondblue; G. Andrews et al 1999, The Mental Health of Australians, Mental Health Branch, Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care, Canberra.
  125. Highet, The National Depression in the Workplace Program, beyondblue and interview (8 February 2006).
  126. According to Dr Highet (8 February 2006 interview), a number of APS agencies (such as Comcare, the ATO, Centrelink and the Departments of Defence, Veterans’ Affairs and Health and Ageing) have already started using this programme.
  127. <www.employers-forum.co.uk/www/index.htm>
  128. For details, including costs, see <www.emad.asn.au>
  129. APSED.
  130. Australian Public Service Commission, Australian Public Service Statistical Bulletin 2004–05, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, p. 111.
  131. Jenny Oates and Associates Pty Ltd.
  132. Australian Public Service Commission 2005, State of the Service Employee Survey Results—Unpublished Data, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, p. 12. Note: As the State of the Service Employee Survey is a sample survey, the results are subject to sampling error. Sampling error can be estimated mathematically and one way to measure it is the standard error. There are about 19 chances in 20 that a sample estimate will be within two standard errors of the true population value. This is known as the 95% Confidence Interval. In this case we are 95% confident the estimate of APS employees who would report having a disability in 2005 is between 5% and 7% (an estimate of 6% and a confidence interval of +/-1% based on a standard error of 0.5%).
  133. Australian Public Service Commission 2005, State of the Service Report 2004–05, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, Table 9.12, p. 215.
  134. APSED.
  135. The figure for Health includes the Therapeutic Goods Administration (with 15 out of 545 employees reporting a disability). If the Therapeutic Goods Administration was reported separately, the Health figure would increase to 5.1%.
  136. APSED.
  137. Australian Public Service Commission 2005, State of the Service Report 2004–05, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, pp. 213–14.
  138. Of contracts worth more than $100,000 (departmental funds) or $5 million (administered funds) over the life of the contract.
  139. In 2003–04, of the 26 agencies that reported that they had finalised new outsourcing contracts or contract extensions in regard to some aspect of ‘other corporate services’, 10 agencies (38%) reported that their outsourcing activity was in relation to those functions outlined above that traditionally employed people with disability. In 2004–05, 23 agencies (28%) reported they had finalised new outsourcing contracts or contract extensions in regard to some aspect of ‘other corporate services’. Of those agencies, nine agencies (39%) reported that their outsourcing activity was in relation to those functions outlined above that traditionally employed people with disability (Australian Public Service Commission 2004, State of the Service Employee Survey Results—Unpublished Data, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra; Australian Public Service Commission 2005, State of the Service Employee Survey Results— Unpublished Data, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra).
  140. Management Advisory Committee 2005, Managing and Sustaining the APS Workforce, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, pp. 10, 18.
  141. Australian Public Service Commission 2005, State of the Service Report 2004–05, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, p. 214.
  142. In 1996, 1.9% (11,656) of 600,061 students reported a disability. In 2004, that number had increased to 3.7% (24,593) (cited in Department of Education, Science and Technology 2006, Commencing and All Domestic Students by Equity Group, 1995 to 2004 (Appendix 3.1)).
  143. Management Advisory Committee 2005, Managing and Sustaining the APS Workforce, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, p. 20.
  144. Management Advisory Committee 2005, Managing and Sustaining the APS Workforce, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, pp. 17–21.
  145. Figures collected by the Australian Public Service Commission in 2005 indicate employees with disability are 60% more likely than other staff to be retrenched. This is, in part, a result of the high proportion of people with disability employed at lower classification levels and the high proportion of retrenchments at these levels.
  146. Focus group discussions and consultations with employment agencies and other advocacy organisations that participated in this review (November 2005–February 2006).
  147. See the discussion in Chapter 6 of this report.
  148. Australian Public Service Commission, Public Service Act 1999 Advice No 3: Special Employment Measures <www.apsc.gov.au/ circulars/psa99advice3.htm> as amended by APSC Circular No. 2000/7: Amendments to the Public Service Commissioner’s Directions <www.apsc.gov.au/circulars/circular007.htm>
  149. Clause 4.2(6)(b)(ii) of the Public Service Commissioner’s Directions 1999.
  150. Australian Public Service Commission 2005, State of the Service Report 2004–05, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, p. 221.
  151. Australian Public Service Commission 2005, State of the Service Employee Survey Results—Unpublished Data, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra.
  152. Australian Public Service Commission 2005, State of the Service Report 2004–05, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, p. 222. Also discussed in J. Graffam et al 2005, Keeping Quality People Engaged: Workforce Satisfaction within the Disability Employment Industry, Deakin University, Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences.
  153. Australian Public Service Commission 2005, State of the Service Employee Survey Results—Unpublished Data, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, p. 26.
  154. Australian Public Service Commission 2005, State of the Service Employee Survey Results—Unpublished Data, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, p. 3.
  155. Australian Public Service Commission 2005, State of the Service Employee Survey Results—Unpublished Data, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, pp. 3, 25 and 27.
  156. Examples of this literature include R. Madden and T. Hogan 1997, The Definition of Disability in Australia: Moving Towards National Consistency, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), Canberra; AIHW 2003, Disability Prevalence and Trends—Disability Series, AIHW, Canberra; Productivity Commission 2004, Review of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992, Report No. 30, Vol. 1, pp. 297–303; N. Meager and J. Hurstfield, ‘Legislating for Equality: Evaluating the Disability Discrimination Act 1995’ (pp. 75–89) and A. Daniel and C. Woodhams, ‘Disability Frameworks and Monitoring Disability in Local Authorities: A Challenge for the Proposed Disability Discrimination Bill’ (pp. 91–105) in A. Roulstone and C. Barnes (eds) 2005, Working Futures? Disabled People, Policy and Social Inclusion, The Policy Press, University of Bristol.
  157. Section 4 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 <scaleplus.law.gov.au/html/pasteact/0/311/0/PA000080.htm>
  158. A key concern in defining disability is the extent to which a particular definition is seen as focusing unduly on a ‘medical’ or ‘deficit’ model at the expense of a more empowering and inclusive ‘social’ model which describes discrimination in terms of physical and attitudinal barriers to participation. For a discussion of the social versus medical definitions of disability, see Productivity Commission 2004, Review of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992, Report No. 30, Vol. 1, p. 298.
  159. The ABS approach, which according to many respondents to this review is arguably based on a purely ‘medical’ or ‘deficit’ model, is that of a simple yes/no structure leading respondents into various categories of severity according to how much their disability affects their lives (without necessarily any explicit reference to the broader social context offered by the DDA 1992 framework). For instance, it gathers information on whether the disability restricts ‘core activities’, ‘non-core activities’, or both, where ‘core activities’ are mobility, self-care and communication and ‘non-core activities’ are employment and schooling. In this respect, the ABS categories align closely with the World Health Organisation’s International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) structure which ‘defines disability as an umbrella term for impairments, activity limitations and participation restrictions’, denoting ‘the negative aspects of the interaction between an individual (with a health condition) and that individual’s contextual factors (environment and personal factors)’, cited in ABS, Disability, Ageing and Carers: Summary of Findings 2003 (2004), p. 72.
  160. Australian Bureau of Statistics 2004, Disability, Ageing and Carers: Summary of Findings 2003, Glossary, pp. 72–3, Catalogue No. 4430.0, ABS, Canberra.
  161. Interviews with consultants and various peak disability groups conducted as part of this review (November 2005–February 2006).
  162. Interviews with peak disability groups (November 2005–February 2006). The 2004 Productivity Commission Review of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992, Report No. 30, Vol. 1, p. 299 refers to comments made by the Mental Health Council of Australia and beyondblue in relation to the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 definition.
  163. Consideration was given to the option of asking two sub-questions in the case of respondents who say ‘YES’ to the question ‘Do you have a disability …?’ If yes, please specify the nature of disability using the definitional categories provided, by ticking from the list the conditions related to your disability (ies)’; and/or: If yes, ‘Is your disability age related? Yes/No’. Currently, some agencies are unable to respond effectively to the needs of their employees with disability because they do not have enough relevant information on the nature of those disabilities. Responses to both these questions could better equip agencies to make more informed choices in improving the employment circumstances of their employees (for example, by devoting resources to education and support on mental illness if responses indicated a significant proportion of their employees experienced mental illness). However, given the privacy concerns raised by such questions, as well as the existing reluctance by employees to self-report their disability, this report takes the view a high degree of cultural and attitudinal change is necessary before such specific questions could be pursued. This approach could be reviewed in three to five years from implementation of this report’s recommendations.
  164. Voluntary data variables are diversity details, educational qualifications and previous workforce status.
  165. The frequency of supplementary data collection will be reviewed after the initial exercise. It is expected that over time the improved quality of data provided by agencies will make such exercises redundant.
  166. APS> employees contacted for the supplementary data collection exercise will be advised that if they choose to provide their data it will be given to their agencies.
  167. Interview with the Mental Health Council of Australia for this review (March 2006).
  168. <www.apsc.gov.au/apsed/privacy.htm>
  169. A key element in demonstrating continuous improvement is the ability to measure existing performance so as to assist management to plan for further improvement. However, the literature notes that performance measurement in general, and monitoring disability in particular, can be a complex exercise due to a number of variables, including the need to monitor the group of employees with disability at regular intervals in order to identify changes in status as many employees are likely to pass in or out of the group during their working lives; the difficulty in gathering data on impairments that are frequently hidden and seen as ‘personal’; and the complications deriving from varying perceptions and definitions of disability, particularly given that not all employees with impairment see themselves as having a disability. For a discussion of performance indicators and measurements and continuous improvement monitoring, see Daniel and Woodhams 2005, ‘Disability Frameworks and Monitoring Disability in Local Authorities: A Challenge for the Proposed Disability Discrimination Bill’; A. Halachmi 2005, ‘Performance Measurement: Test the Water Before You Dive In’, International Review of Administrative Sciences, Vol. 71, No. 2, June 2005, pp. 255–66; M. Dubnick 2005, ‘Accountability and the Promise of Performance: In Search of the Mechanisms’, Public Performance & Management Review, Vol. 28, No. 3, March 2005, pp. 376–417; R. Boyle 2005, Civil Service Performance Indicators, CPMR Discussion Paper No. 29, Institute of Public Administration, Dublin; M. Armstrong 2006, Performance Management: Key Strategies and Practical Guidelines, 3rd edn, Kogan Page, London.
  170. Interviews and focus group discussions for this review (November 2005–March 2006).
  171. See the discussion of the ACT Government’s 2006 graduate recruitment process in Chapter 3 of this report.
  172. Anecdotal evidence raised in consultations for this review, including discussions with ACROD–National Industry Association for Disability Services (January–March 2006).
  173. One useful example, which may inform the reporting and self-monitoring of agencies, is the Disability Standard developed in 2005 by The Employers’ Forum on Disability in the United Kingdom. See The Employers’ Forum on Disability 2005, The Disability Standard 2005: Benchmark Report Summary.
  174. Australian Public Service Commission 2005, State of the Service Report 2004–05, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra.
  175. Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) 2005, WORKability II: Solutions—People with Disability in the Open Workplace, HREOC, Sydney; HREOC 2005, WORKability I: Barriers—People with Disability in the Open Workplace, HREOC, Sydney.
  176. The evaluation was, at the time of writing, unpublished.
  177. The Employer Demand Action Plan remained, at the time of writing, unpublished.
  178. Productivity Commission, Review of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (2004).
  179. Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) 2003, Transforming Disability into Ability: Policies to Promote Work and Income Security for Disabled People, OECD, Paris, p. 11.
  180. New Zealand Government, Office for Disability Issues 2005, Work in Progress: The New Zealand Disability Strategy 2004–2005, Office for Disability Issues, p. 22 <www.odi.govt.nz> The website was viewed on 6 March 2006.
  181. <www.ssc.govt.nz/display/document.asp?navid=127>
  182. UK Government 2004, Civil Service Statistics <www.civilservice.gov.uk/management/statistics/reports/2004/diversity/index.asp#disability>
  183. UK Government 1999, Civil Service Statistics <www.civilservice.gov.uk/management/statistics/reports/index.asp>
  184. The UK Civil Service website on disability contains information on a range of initiatives including a bursary scheme and disability network <www.civilservice.gov.uk/diversity/disability/bursary/index.asp>
  185. P. Conroy and S. Fanagan 2001, Research Project on the Effective Recruitment of People with Disabilities into the Public Service, 2000 commissioned by the Equality Authority and the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Rahaleen Ltd, Dublin www.equality.ie/index.asp?locID=105&docID=71
  186. House of Commons Canada, Standing Committee of Human Resources, Skills Development, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disability 2005, Accessibility for All <www.parl.gc.ca/infocomdoc/38/1/parlbus/commbus/house/HUMA/report/RP1923671/HUMA_Rpt08/HUMA_Rpt08-e.pdf>
  187. Canadian Government, Public Service Human Resource Agency 1997, Employment Equity in the Federal Public Service 1996–97, p. 37 <http://www.hrma-agrh.gc.ca/ee/ar-ra/ar-ra_e.asp>
  188. Public Service Human Resource Agency 2003, Employment Equity in the Federal Public Service 2002–03, p. 60 <http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/report/empequi/2003/ee00_e.asp>
  189. Office of Personnel Management 2004, Federal Civilian Statistics: The Fact Book 2004 Edition, United States Office of Personnel Management.
  190. Legislation and Executive Orders support the specific employment of people with disability <http://www.opm.gov/disability/appempl_5-01.asp>
  191. Queensland Government, Office of the Public Service Commissioner 2005, Annual Report 2004–2005, p. 53 <http://www.opsme.qld.gov.au/pubs/pub.htm#ar>
  192. Tasmanian State Government, State Service Commissioner 2005, Tasmanian State Service Employee Survey Report 2005, p. 13 <http:// www.ossc.tas.gov.au/reports.html>
  193. J. Graffam, K. Smith and L. Hardcastle 2005, Achieving Substantive Equality and Optimal Participation: Employees with a Disability in the Victorian Public Sector, p. 9 <http://www.ssa.vic.gov.au/Webfiles/Docs/OFADisabilityPaper.pdf>
  194. Interviews with the NSW Premier’s Department (January–February 2006).
  195. Interview and correspondence with the ACT Chief Minister’s Department (February 2006).
  196. Australian Public Service Commission 2005, State of the Service Report 2004–05, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, p. 213.
  197. South Australian State Government, Office of Public Employment 2005, SA Public Sector Workforce Information at June 2005 Summary Report, p. 11 <www.ope.sa.gov.au/default.asp?idL1=20&idL2=1640&idL3=78>
  198. Northern Territory State Government, Office of the Commissioner for Public Employment 2005, Quarterly Report on ‘Willing and Able’—A Strategy for Employment of People with Disabilities in the Northern Territory Public Sector (NTPS) <www.nt.gov.au/ocpe/equity/progress_reports/2005_sept.pdf> The website was viewed on 6 March 2006.
  199. Western Australian State Government, Director of Equal Opportunity in Public Employment 2005, Annual Report 2004–05, p. 51 <www.oeeo.wa.gov.au/publications/reports.htm>
  200. Consultation with the Queensland Government (December 2005).

 

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