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Circular 2015/1: Implementation of the RecruitAbility scheme

1. This circular is to advise agencies of the implementation of the RecruitAbility scheme across the Australian Public Service (APS) with effect from 1 January 2015.

2. RecruitAbility is a major initiative of the As One – Australian Public Service Disability Employment Strategy. The scheme aims to attract and develop applicants with disability and also facilitate cultural change in selection panels and agency recruitment.

3. Under the scheme, job applicants with disability who opt in to the scheme and meet the minimum requirements of the job are advanced to a further stage in the selection process (usually an interview). Merit remains the basis for engagement and promotion and no person will be displaced from a shortlist to make way for a person with disability applying under the scheme.

4. A pilot of the scheme commenced in June 2013 with 15 APS agencies participating. At its November 2014 meeting, the Diversity Council reviewed the outcomes of the pilot and agreed to the full implementation of the RecruitAbility scheme across the APS from 1 January 2015.


5. RecruitAbility is available to all APS agencies from 1 January 2015. It is not compulsory but all APS agencies are encouraged to adopt the scheme.

6. People with disability are significantly under-represented in the APS. In addition, employees with disability within the APS experience more limited career progression. RecruitAbility provides APS agencies with the means to better support people with disability in APS selection processes without compromising the merit principle.

7. RecruitAbility may be applied to all APS vacancies, including SES roles. It is not intended for the scheme to be limited to jobs requiring knowledge or understanding of disability issues.

Legislative basis

8. The affirmative measure that provides for the RecruitAbility scheme is set out in Part 2.2 of the Australian Public Service Commissioner's Directions (the Directions) at clause 2.17A and provides, in summary, that:

  • in notifying a vacancy, an agency head may specify that the RecruitAbility scheme applies to that vacancy
  • if a vacancy has been notified under the RecruitAbility scheme, the consideration of a person for engagement or promotion using the measures in the scheme is conduct that complies with the merit principle
  • agency heads are not required to consider a person for a vacancy in accordance with the RecruitAbility scheme (i.e. it is not compulsory to advertise a vacancy under the scheme or to interview a person applying under the scheme), and
  • where a vacancy is notified under the scheme, all other merit requirements outlined in the Directions are to be met.

9. While clause 2.17A of the Directions applies specifically to engagements and promotions, the RecruitAbility scheme also applies to existing APS employees who apply for notified vacancies at or below their current classification level.

Further information

10. See further information about the RecruitAbility scheme, including guides for agencies and job applicants.

11. Further assistance for APS agencies is also available by contacting the Commission's Disability Team at diversity [at] apsc.gov.au.  Job applicants should be directed to the applicant guide.


Owen Livermore
Group Manager, Employment Policy and Participation
Australian Public Service Commission

1 January 2015

Last reviewed: 
15 January 2019