Inclusive employment

The Disability Royal Commission made a number of findings and recommendations on inclusive employment.  

While the Final Report does not include any autism specific recommendations on employment, it does include findings and recommendations with relevance to people with cognitive and intellectual disability. These may be of particular interest and relevance to some members of the autism community. These findings were informed by evidence from Autistic people and their families and supporters. 

For an Easy Read version of the Commission’s report on ‘Inclusive Employment’, visit here   

What the Commission found

  • People with intellectual or cognitive disability struggle to find disability-inclusive employers that understand and meet their needs. 
  • People with intellectual or cognitive disability are less likely to be employed full-time in open employment than people with other types of disabilities. 
  • The top 3 categories of people with disability accessing Disability Employment Services (DES) are physical, psychiatric and autism.  
  • There are good practice examples of public service agencies establishing programs for neurodiverse employees, including the Aurora Neurodiversity Program (Services Australia and Specialisterne Australia) and the Rise program (Victorian DHHS). 
  • People with disability currently working in Australian Disability Enterprises (ADEs), particularly people with intellectual disability and cognitive impairment, may be at heightened risk of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation, when compared with people with similar disability working in open employment with adjustments and supports.   

What the Commission recommended

  1. Recommendations 7.18 and 7.19, and pages 505 – 509 in Part B: Adopt specific and disaggregated targets to increase the proportion of employees with cognitive and intellectual disability in the public sector, supported by clear employment pathways, measures, programs and supports.  
  1. Recommendation 7.23: Adopt procurement policies that favor businesses and entities able to demonstrate inclusive employment practices, including for people with intellectual disability or cognitive impairments.  
  1. While workplaces exclusively for people with disability continue to operate, comprehensive protections for people with intellectual disability and cognitive impairment must be provided to ensure they are safe from mistreatment, are supported to transition to open employment and can exercise choice and control over where they work. See pages 574 – 575, 593 and 623 of Part B. 

To read the Commission’s final report in full on ‘Inclusive employment’, visit here.

Some of the lived experience stories shared by the autism community

  • An Autistic man named Hugh spoke 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 be willing to employ Autistic people in environments or set-ups where they ‘feel comfortable’, such as their own home or on a flexible basis. 
  • An Autistic woman named Taylor shared 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. 

Do you need more information or support?

If you would like more information about these findings or recommendations or have any questions about the Commission or its report, we encourage you to contact Your Story Disability Legal Support on 1800 77 1800, online here or by email here.   We appreciate that reading this page and hearing the lived experience stories shared may raise mixed emotions and cause anxiety or distress for many people. If you, or someone you know, needs support, the following services are available.

  • National Counselling and Referral Service at Blue Knot – 1800 421 468 or visit the website.
  • Beyond Blue 24/7 Support – 1300 224 636 or visit the website.
  • Lifeline 24/7 Crisis Support – 13 11 14 or visit the website.
  • 1800 Respect – 1800 737 722 or visit the website.
  • Disability Gateway – 1800 643 787 or visit the website.
  • 13 YARN – 13 92 76 or visit the website.
  • If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, contact triple zero (000).
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