10 most common disability barriers to employment in 2021

Published on 26 Nov 2021

Six job seekers who found work with Disability Employment Services by APM

MORE job seekers successfully broke down the barrier of living with a mental health condition to find work, than any other disability in 2021.

Ahead of this year’s International Day of People with Disability, APM Employment Services has revealed more than 9,000 people registered with the Disability Employment Services program with a mental health-related disability, were placed into a job in the last year.

APM delivers the government-funded program to help eligible job seekers with an injury, illness or disability across the country find suitable employment.

As well as supporting each job seeker to overcome barriers to employment, the program also assists businesses in hiring people with disability through wage subsidies, workplace modifications and on the job support services.

Mental health conditions were amongst the 10 most common types of disability of eligible job seekers, and included:

  • 2,569 people with depression
  • 1,659 people with anxiety
  • 664 people diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder
  • 4,490 with other psychological health conditions

Spinal injuries, lower limb deficiencies and autism were also in the 10 most common barriers job seekers faced in their search for employment in 2021.

To be eligible for the Disability Employment Services program, job seekers must have a diagnosed health condition or disability and be assessed as being able to work between eight and 30 hours per week.

In the 2021 financial year, APM Employment Services – Australia’s largest provider of the Disability Employment Services program – placed more than 35,000* job seekers with disability into employment.

More than 200 different disabilities and health conditions were identified as barriers to employment for job seekers registered with APM in 2021.

The large number of mental health and psychological conditions managed by job seekers highlights the prevalence of disabilities which are not easily identified but still have a huge impact on a person’s employment status.

APM Employment Services CEO Karen Rainbow said the figures highlight the importance of sustainable employment as a factor in a person’s wellbeing and mental health support.

“At APM we regularly see how employment can help improve a person’s mental health when they’re living with conditions such as depression and anxiety.

“Our teams are dedicated to helping every job seeker get to a place where they can find a suitable role and succeed in a good job and in good health.

“Often this involves supporting local employers to realise how common disability is in our communities and how valuable people with disability are to their workforce.”

10 most common disabilities impacting people who found employment through APM Employment Services in 2021

  Diagnosed disability barrier People supported into work
Psychological health 4,490
Depression 2,569
Spinal disorder 2,020
Anxiety 1,659
Lower limb deficiencies 930
Musculo-skeletal disorders 930
Intellectual disability 821
Shoulder and upper arm disorders 727
 Autism 698
Bipolar affective disorder 664
  • Figures are for FY2021. This list provides insights into the disabilities affecting the employment of active job seekers when searching for work and is not a comprehensive account of disability types or health conditions across Australia.
  • * 25,310 job seekers in Disability Employment Services and 10,710 people with disability in the jobactive program.

Register for Disability Employment Services

Living with a disability?

If you have an injury, illness or disability and want to work, we can help.

Find out if you’re eligible to join the Disability Employment Services program by the eligibility list on our job seeker page.

You can also find useful information and articles to help assist you in finding work and shaping a career in our Work and Disability resource section.

Alternatively, call our support team on 1800 276 276 or find your local APM Employment Services team on our locations page.

New service for employers

Earlier this year APM Employment Services launched Employable Me – a new tool to help employers find staff quickly and easily.

The platform allows businesses to fill gaps in their team and match job seekers to their roles.

Learn more or register at employableme.com

Register with Employable Me