Having a job is important to make someone feel like they are a part of the community as well as for their economic independence. Living with a disability can impact on a person’s ability to get a paying job, as well as the number of opportunities available to them. The following 2015 Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (SDAC) results are for the working age population (those aged 15–64 years) living in households.

In 2015, there were 2.1 million Australians of working age with disability. Of these, one million were employed and another 114,900 were looking for work. This means that 53.4 per cent of working age people with disability were in the labour force, compared to 83.2 per cent of people without a disability.

A link can be made between the number of people with disability who are working and the severity of their limitation. In 2015, 25 per cent of people with a profound or severe limitation were working, compared with 58.9 per cent of those with a mild limitation. In 2012, the labour force participation rate was higher for people with profound or severe limitations at 29.7 per cent.

Other key 2015 figures for Australians of working age include:

  • The unemployment rate for people with disability was 10 per cent, compared to people without disability at 5.3 per cent.
  • Just over one-quarter (27 per cent) of people with disability were working full-time, compared with more than half (53.8 per cent) of those without disability.
  • Almost half of people with disability were not in the labour force (46.6 per cent), compared to 16.8 per cent of those without disability.
  • There was an increase in the number of people with disability working part-time, from 19 per cent in 2012 to 21.1 per cent in 2015.

Source: ABS 4430.0 – Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings, 2015


Job Access helps people with disability find and keep jobs, get promoted to better jobs, and upgrade or expand their workplace skills.

Employee Assistance Fund (EAF) gives financial help to eligible people with a disability and mental health condition, as well as employers to buy work-related modifications and services. The EAF is available to people with disability who are about to start a job or who are currently working, as well as people who need help to find and prepare for a job. It is also available to people with disability who are self-employed and jobseekers who need Auslan assistance, or special work equipment to look for and prepare for a job.

Disclosure: Choosing Your Path. Disclosure: It’s A Personal Decision is a web-based resource published by Western Sydney University and the University of Ballarat

Australian Human Rights Commission gives advice about discrimination law and complaints. A Disability Action Plan is a strategy to help your organisation change business practices that could result in discrimination against people with disabilities. The Action Plan helps businesses to work out these practices and offers ways to change and showcase their commitment.

Workers with Mental Illness: A Practical Guide for Managers provides managers with information on how to support workers with mental illness. It also provides managers with information about how to develop and promote a safe and healthy work environment for all workers.