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Disability initiatives-what agencies are doing

The As One: Making it Happen, APS Disability Employment Strategy 2016-19 sets out actions aimed at attracting and retaining people with disability in the Australian Public Service (APS).

This  guide to a range of disability initiatives complements the Implementation Guide for HR Managers and the Managers Toolkit. It contains:

  • a description of  disability programs and initiatives currently underway in the APS which could be shared or adapted in other agencies
  • a list of agency disability action plans, policies and training resources that can be adapted.

It is set out under each of the  four key areas highlighted in the Strategy:

  • expand the range of employment opportunities for people with disability,
  • invest in developing the capability of employees with disability,
  • increase the representation of employees with disability in senior roles,
  • foster inclusive cultures in the workplace.

This guide is not a static document, but rather one that will be continuously built on. Agencies are encouraged to contribute by emailing abilityatwork [at] apsc.gov.au.

Programs and initiatives

1: Expand the range of employment opportunities for people with disability.

To improve representation, agencies should review and expand the opportunities they offer to people with disability.
Action Agency Program/initiative details
Affirmative measure—Disability employment Australian Public Service Commission

The Australian Public Service Commissioner's Directions 2016 (the Directions) commenced on 1 December 2016. Section 27 of the Directions provides a new affirmative measure which gives agencies the flexibility to identify a vacancy as open only to persons who have a disability, or a particular type of disability. The affirmative measure is designed to address the under-representation of people with disability in the APS. It can be applied to any ongoing, non-ongoing or casual APS vacancy, regardless of the duties, including those at Senior Executive Service level. It is not restricted to jobs with a disability-related function. It may be applied to individual vacancies or bulk rounds, such as graduate recruitment rounds. For more information see here or contact diversity [at] apsc.gov.au (.)

Defence Intellectual Disability Employment Initiative Department of Defence A program of 18 centrally funded positions for people with an intellectual disability, employed through the disability affirmative measure at Defence sites throughout Australia.
Contact diversity [at] defence.gov.au
Defence Administrative Assistant Scheme Department of Defence A program of 36 funded APS 1 positions for people with disability employed on a non-ongoing basis at Defence sites throughout Australia through Koomarri.
Contact diversity [at] defence.gov.au
Dandelion Program Department of Human Services
Department of Defence
The Dandelion Program offers traineeships for 11 people with Autism Spectrum Disorder working at DHS's ICT Hub in Adelaide, 13 in Brisbane and 14 in Canberra, testing ICT products and services.
All Abilities Employment Program Department of Agriculture Piloting an All Abilities Employment Program with a Victorian-based Disability Employment Services provider at the Post Entry Quarantine facility in Melbourne for an employee with Down Syndrome.
Contact Diversity [at] agriculture.gov.au
Stepping Into Internship for graduates with disability Australian Public Service Commission
Attorney-General's Department
Department of Agriculture and Water Resources
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
Department of Social Services
Participation in the Stepping Into Internship program for graduates with disability is facilitated by Australian Network on Disability.
RecruitAbility 60+ agencies RecruitAbility is a scheme which progresses applicants with disability who opt into the scheme to the next stage in a selection process, where the applicant has been assessed as meeting the minimum requirements for the relevant job.
Disability Employment Working Group Convened by the Australian Public Service Commission The purpose of the Disability Employment Working Group is to progress APS disability employment initiatives by bringing together Disability Employment Services providers, peak disability bodies and APS diversity managers. The group serves as a reference body for the development of new strategies and guidelines.

2: Invest in developing the capability of employees with disability.

Employees with disability should be equipped to progress their careers at the same rate as employees without disability and have equal opportunities to demonstrate their suitability for promotion.
Action Agency Program/initiative details
Reverse mentoring with a person with disability Australian Public Service Commission Reverse mentoring with a person with disability involves an employee with disability sharing workplace challenges and potential solutions with managers. The aim of the initiative is to create understanding between managers and people with disability and to build managerial capability.
Contact the APSC Disability and Carers Support Network at diversity [at] apsc.gov.au
Accessibility Action Plan National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) The NDIA has developed an Accessibility Action Plan 2013-17, which outlines actions to make the workplace more accessible.
Accessibility Support Unit Department of Human Services (DHS) The DHS Accessibility Support Unit provides support, training and advisory services to employees using accessible software such as assistive technology. The Unit is now delivering accessibility support shared services more broadly across the APS.
Contact accessibility.support.unit [at] humanservices.gov.au
National Disability Access Coordinator Department of Human Services (DHS) The National Disability Access Coordinator is the point of contact for DHS staff, managers and HR practitioners who require advice and support for reasonable adjustments.
Contact disability.access.coordinator [at] humanservices.gov.au
Central Accessibility Hub Department of Defence (Defence) A central point for all Defence employees with disability who use accessible technology. Contact diversity [at] defence.gov.au

3: Increase the representation of employees with disability in senior roles.

People with disability need to be better represented at all levels of leadership within the APS.
Action Agency Program/initiative details
Nominate employees with disability for existing talent management programs Australian Public Service Commission The APSC runs a Career Development Assessment Centre . The program is designed for high performing EL 2 employees who demonstrate genuine potential for fast-tracking into the Senior Executive Service.
Contact cdac [at] apsc.gov.au
PACE mentoring programs Attorney-General's Department Positive Action towards Career Engagement (PACE) is a mentoring program facilitated by the Australian Network on Disability. Available to all APS agencies.
Set employment targets Department of Social Services Target of 10% disability employment for DSS established in December 2015. Baseline targets set for Group and State/Territory levels with a goal of 100% achievement of the targets by December 2018.

This will be achieved through a disclosure campaign, applying RecruitAbility to all vacancies (including Senior Executive Service), provision of disability awareness training and the establishment of a people with disability award scheme.

4: Foster inclusive cultures in the workplace.

Agencies should foster workplaces that facilitate the genuine inclusion of people with disability.
Action Lead agency Program/initiative details
Disability Matters newsletter Australian Public Service Commission The aim of the newsletter is to communicate the support available to APSC employees with disability and to share information on disability related initiatives in the APSC. Initiatives include:
  • Increase manager and staff capability by organising '5 plus 5' meetings with EL staff (5 employees with disability meeting with 5 managers)
  • Promote existing web-based disability awareness training modules to managers
  • Running face-to-face disability awareness training within the APSC.
Disability Support Advisors Australian Taxation Office The ATO has a national Disability Adviser Network that provides a local contact for employees with disability, their managers and colleagues to give advice on what support is available in the workplace.
Contact workplacediversity [at] ato.gov.au
Reasonable Adjustment Passport Department of Defence
Department of Social Services
Australian Public Service Commission
The Passport ensures that reasonable adjustments required by an employee with disability are documented. It is a useful tool to open discussion with a manager regarding any adjustments required in the workplace and can assist when managers or workgroups change.
Disability Contact Officer Australian Public Service Commission The APSC has introducing a Disability Contact Officer role. This is a voluntary role that fits into an employee's regular duties. The purpose of the role is to be a point of information and support within the APSC for employees with disability, carers and staff who work with or supervise people with disability or carers.
Contactthe APSC Disability and Carers Support Network at diversity [at] apsc.gov.au
Reasonable Adjustment Policy Australian Public Service Commission The APSC Reasonable Adjustment Policy ensures that employees with disability have an accessible and inclusive work environment. The policy provides that requests for adjustments are to be dealt with promptly. The APSC aims to make adjustments within 10 working days of an agreement. Contact diversity [at] apsc.gov.au
Disability awareness and confidence e-learning Australian Public Service Commission / Department of Human Services The Disability Awareness and Disability Confidence e-learning packages are available on the shared service centre Learnhub. Contact diversity [at] apsc.gov.au to arrange access.
Leading the Way video series Australian Public Service Commission A series of seven videos featuring APS leaders and disability champions talking about the benefits of employing a person with disability. Available from the APSC website at As One – Leading the Way videos.
As One, Working Together: Promoting mental health and wellbeing at work Australian Public Service Commission
Comcare
A mental health guide for managers and HR practitioners with 18 fact sheets. Available from the APSC website at Working Together.
Diversity training Australian Public Service Commission There are two modules: Working with Diversity and Getting the Most out of Diversity. The training aims to skill participants in harnessing the benefits of diversity and managing unconscious bias.
Contact coreskills [at] apsc.gov.au
'Talking Disability' video series Australian Taxation Office The ATO's 'Talking Disability' video series features six videos: Disability Awareness:
Invisible Disability; Sharing information on disability; Support for employees with disability; Reasonable Adjustment; and Working with people with disability.
Contact workplacediversity [at] ato.gov.au
Disability Confidence Training for managers Department of Human Services This training is provided by the Australian Network on Disability (AND).
Mental Health Training for manager's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Currently in development – training for managers who manage an employee with a mental health issue.
Contact workplace.diversity [at] dfat.gov.au
Disability awareness training Department of Agriculture and Water Resources
Department of Health
Department of Employment
Department of Human Services
This training is provided by the Australian Network on Disability (AND)
Research Projects – Barriers Department of Agriculture and Water Resources
Department of Defence
Department of Human Services
Eight agencies, including those listed, participated in a University of Canberra research project on barriers to employment for people with disability in the APS. The report was launched in November 2016 and is available here
Training and information sessions supported by promotional campaigns Murray-Darling Basin Authority Employees and managers should gain an awareness of disabilities and caring responsibilities. Diversity messages will be incorporated into daily activities. The agency will celebrate and promote events such as Carers Week, Mental Health Week and International Day of People with a Disability. Contact peopleandculture [at] mdba.gov.au
Venue Hire Accessibility Policy Department of Employment The policy ensures that appropriate access to facilities for people with disability, illness or injury to all venues used by the department. It includes a Venue Hire Checklist.
People with Disability Award Scheme Department of Social Services Award(s) for DSS employees who have made significant contribution to disability issues. Award(s) will coincide with International Day of People with Disability.
Contactdiversity [at] dss.gov.au
One-plus-one Australian Public Service Commission As disability champion, the Deputy Commissioner has established one-plus-one drop in sessions to give employees with disability the opportunity to discuss issues affecting them directly with her.
Contact diversity [at] apsc.gov.au
Changing Mindsets Australian Public Service Commission Department of Communications and the Arts
Department of Education and Training
Department of Human Services
A program to reduce stigma around employing people with disability. There is a suite of options including job shadowing, reverse mentoring and spending time with specialist organisations such as Koomarri and Mental Health Education ACT.
Contact AbilityAtWork [at] apsc.gov.au
Understanding disability and self-disclosure at DFAT Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade A resource to raise awareness of disability in DFAT intended to create an inclusive workplace environment where staff feel comfortable to share information about their disability.
Contact workplace.diversity [at] dfat.gov.au
'My Story: Living life with disability' video series Australian Taxation Office The ATO's 'My Story – Living life with disability' video series features four ATO employees sharing their personal story of living and working with disability.
Contact workplacediversity [at] ato.gov.au

Agency – Working with disability resources

Department of Human Services

Department of Social Services

Department of Defence

Department of Employment

Australian Network on Disability

Australian Human Rights Commission

Disability Action Plans

Assistance animals