Employment: hearing, finding and recommending

What has the Disability Royal Commission heard?

The Disability Royal Commission has heard that the unemployment rate for Autistic people (34%) is more than three times the rate for people with disability and almost eight times the rate of people without disability.

It has heard from Autistic people about barriers to finding work, the inaccessibility and poor outcomes of Disability Employment Services, experiences of discrimination, mistreatment and exploitation in the workplace and the failures of workplaces to make reasonable adjustments or provide meaningful work or career advancement.  It has also heard about difficulties transitioning from Australian Disability Enterprises (ADE) to paid employment, poor wages and career growth, and a lack of adequate oversight of ADE.

It has heard from:

  • An Autistic man named Hugh, about the barriers to employment he has experienced, the failures of Disability Employment Services to meet his needs and the impacts of not being able to secure work. Hugh highlighted the need for strong incentives for employers to employ Autistic people where they ‘feel comfortable’, such as their own home or on a flexible basis.
  • An Autistic woman named Taylor, about her experiences of discrimination during recruitment processes and in the workplace. Taylor spoke about the impacts of disclosing her autism diagnosis, failures to provide reasonable adjustments and the ongoing lack of awareness and understanding of ‘invisible disabilities’ such as autism in the workplace. Taylor advocated for Disability Liaison Officers in recruitment, to facilitate requests for adjustments and address any questions prospective employees or employers may have. She also highlighted the need for affirmative measures in the Public Service, and the need to consult with employees with disability to create more inclusive workplaces.

The Australian Autism Alliance has made a  submission to the Disability Royal Commission to inform it about the experiences of Autistic people seeking and engaging in employment. Amaze has also  forwarded the Commission its submission to the recent Disability Employment Services Review Taskforce, to inform the commission on how Disability Employment Services may be improved for Autistic people. 

What has the Disability Royal Commission found?

The Disability Royal Commission has found that despite many policies and programs to increase employment of people with disability, workforce participation rates for people with disability have remained largely unchanged over the past two decades. It is continuing investigations into the experiences of people with disability, including autism in the workplace, (including in open and segregated employment, such as Australian Disability Enterprises) and the adequacy of Disability Employment Services.

What has the Disability Royal Commission recommended?

We will update this page when the Disability Royal Commission makes recommendations to improve the experience of Autistic people seeking employment and engaging in work.

For more information, please see the Disability Royal Commission’s  Interim Report  and transcripts from Public Hearing 9 – Systematic barriers in the pathways to employment for people with disability, Public Hearing 19 – Measures taken by employers and regulators to respond to the systematic barriers to open employment for people with disability, Public Hearing 21 – The experiences of people with disability engaging with Disability Employment Services and Public Hearing 22 – The experience of people with disability working in Australian Disability Enterprises.

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