Shining a spotlight on Australia’s workplace inclusion gap

APM Employment Consultant Steve talks to a job seeker with disability

As the Australian economy starts to rebuild and businesses face candidate shortages, new research acknowledges the need to ensure people with disability aren’t left behind.

The latest Disability Diversity and Inclusivity (DDI) Index* from leading human services organisation APM highlights the continued barriers people with disability face in the workforce in Australia.

Along with lower participation rates 1,41% of those in employment are underemployed - a stark contrast from the current national underemployment rate of just 9%**.

Released today to mark International Day of People with Disabilities, the DDI Index sheds additional light on the challenges that the 2.1 million*** people with disability face in finding employment, staying in employment and pay prospects – all of which provides a concerning disparity to the national average of working Australians.

Critically, the DDI Index highlights disparity in not just finding a job, but in ongoing job security.

Of the 1,286 people with disability surveyed, 53% indicated it has taken them at least one year to look for a new role, compared to just 14% of the 1,002 working age Australians surveyed.

Of those currently in a job, the average working age Australian has held their role for more than three years, compared to just six months or less for a person with disability.

APM participant Pat found work with his disability

APM job seeker living with disability, Patrick O’Doherty, said: “COVID has definitely made things harder to get a job, but the trend of businesses overlooking or only offering casual roles to people like me with a disability has been around for a long time, and sadly, doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere.”

“We have so much to give, and really hope many more businesses can keep opening their eyes, minds and hearts –I know they won’t regret it,” Patrick added.

The DDI Index also unveiled a significant imbalance in wages between those with and without a disability. One in three (34%) employed people with disability earn $20,000 or less, a significant contrast to the 5% of working age Australians.

Just 17% of people with disability earn $30 an hour or more, compared to 60% of working age Australians.

Michael Anghie, APM Group CEO said: “While the Index highlights there’s still a long way to go, it is pleasing to see the growing number of Australian employers being open to hiring people with disability, injury or illness (78%), and a similar, and increasing proportion, reporting direct workplace benefits from hiring someone with a disability (65% vs 58% last year).

“We, of course, won’t be satisfied until these numbers reach 100%, and will continue to create pathways to enable better lives for all those living with disability or in disadvantage,” Mr Anghie said.

Michelle Nolan from The Body Shop added: “We take diversity and inclusion very seriously at The Body Shop and have a range of programs in place to ensure that every Australian, no matter their background or ability, have opportunities within our workforce.”

“Businesses need diversity and diversity needs business backing. Today, on International Day of People with Disabilities, it’s a great opportunity to bring this topic to the forefront,” Michelle added.

In the past 12 months, APM has supported over one million people globally, including the unemployed, people with disability, mental health needs, people emerging from the criminal justice system and veterans returning to civilian life, to name just a few.

To download the 2022 APM Disability Diversity and Inclusivity Index in full, please visit:

Download the DDI Index

For more information on APM, DDI or interviews with Patrick O’Doherty (APM job seeker), Michelle Nolan (The Body Shop) or Michael Anghie (APM), please contact:

Enthral | | 0438 044 438

Notes to editors:

*Source: APM Diversity, Disability and Inclusivity Index 2022, September 2021, by Core Data. (Sample: 1,286 people with disability, 509 Australian businesses and 1,002 working age Australians)

**Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics 2018 Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers Australia

***Source: ABS Labour Force, Australia, December 2020