10 most-common disabilities of Australian job seekers

Published on 01 Dec 2022

Non-visible disabilities dominate the list of barriers Australian job seekers face when they access support to find employment, figures show.

In a list of the most-common disabilities of people who qualify for the Disability Employment Services program by APM Employment Services, the number of participants with psychological or mental health conditions more than doubles the number of people with a physical disability.

The list, published by APM for International Day of People with Disability, highlights the prevalence of non-visible disabilities across the country.

APM is the largest provider of Disability Employment Services and in the last financial year supported more than 56,000 individuals through the program.

More than 10,100 of these participants (17.8%) were eligible for the support due to a psychological condition.

More than 5,500 participants (9.3%) were registered with depression and over 3,100 (5.4%) had anxiety recorded as their qualifying disability.

The most common physical disability was listed as spinal disorder, with more than 5,800 participants (10.2%) registered for support to find employment while living with back-related issues.

Seeing past the stigma of disability

The types of disability faced by participants in the Australian Government-funded program shines a spotlight on the barriers facing people who are looking for jobs but may be discounted by employers who underestimate their ability to work.

“The various types of disability participants in the Disability Employment Services program live with emphasise how important it is for employers, and everybody, to see past any stigma of disability and look at the values a person can bring to their business,’ said APM Employment Services CEO Karen Rainbow.

“We understand everyone is different and our teams are dedicated to supporting people into suitable and secure employment.”

Earlier this year APM Employment Services received a record-high star ratings performance based on how well they support participants into lasting jobs.

“Across the country our teams regularly see how well job seekers with a visible or non-visible disability perform when they start working for a supportive employer and workplace’” Ms Rainbow said.

“We work closely with employers to support hiring people with disability and to look past the challenges a person faces and focus on their ability to do a suitable job.

“Whatever barrier people face, having an environment where they are welcomed as employees and enabled to do good work has incredible value for them and positive results for a business.”

Disability Diversity and Inclusivity in Australian workplaces

The number of people with non-visible disability in the Disability Employment Services program accompanies results from the 2023 APM Disability Diversity and Inclusivity Index of Australian Workplaces (DDI Index).

The annual report from APM gives Australian businesses a score on how well they support the inclusion of people with disability.

It measures and tracks the broad areas of workplace culture, accessibility and career equity for people with disability.

The latest results which come from surveys completed by 509 businesses and 1,502 job seekers with disability, also highlight the prevalence of non-visible disability in the workforce.

It also suggests people with a non-visible disability face different challenges to finding and keeping a job than those with a visible disability.

Read more about the 2023 DDI Index and download your copy of the research at apm.net.au/ddi-index.

Disability Participants % of total participants
Psychological 10,178 17.87%
Spinal disorder 5,834 10.24%
Depression 5,541 9.73%
Anxiety 3,117 5.47%
Lower limb deficiencies 2,223 3.90%
Musculoskeletal disorders 2,168 3.81%
Osteoarthritis 1,868 3.28%
Shoulder & upper arm disorders 1,832 3.22%
Autism 1,181 2.07%
Intellectual disability 1,116 1.96%
Circulatory system 1,029 1.81%

* 56,962 people were registered with APM for Disability Employment Services from 1 July 2021 to 30 June 2022.