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This issues paper looks at the experiences of people with disability in employment. We want to understand why people with disability are less likely to be employed and have lower incomes than people without disability. The issues paper is also seeking information about people’s experiences of discrimination at work and how well specific programs designed to increase the employment of people with disability are working. The issues paper asks 9 questions to help people and organisations to provide responses. The paper is available in Easy Read, PDF and DOCX.

Responses were received from people with disability, parents and family members, academics and organisations.

How to respond

Further responses to the Emergency planning and response Issues paper can be made via the submissions process.

Responses can be in any language. The Royal Commission will translate the response to English.

Please indicate if you consent to your responses being made public on our website.

Issues paper - Employment (Auslan)


Employment Issues paper

We are the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability.

We have prepared an issues paper on an important topic.

We invite you to respond.

Your feedback will help us in our work

We are interested in the experiences of people with disability in employment in different work settings.

This could be in open or segregated workplaces.

It could mean employment in paid work or contracting.

It could mean being self-employed or being an apprentice.


There is a United Nations convention that talks about the rights of people with disability.

The convention says that people with disability have the right to work on an equal basis as others.

We want to understand why people with disability are less likely to be employed.

We want to know why they miss out on career progression opportunities.

We want to know why people with disability have lower incomes.

We also want to know why First Nations people with disability experience higher rates of unemployment.

We welcome your feedback

Employment programs

In Australia there are lots of programs that support people with disability take part in employment.

We are interested in whether these programs are beneficial.

We want to know if they are easy to access, how well they help people with disability find and keep a job.

We want to know whether these jobs provide an adequate income.

We also want to hear form employers.

We want to know whether these programs help employers hire and keep people with disability.


It is against the law to discriminate against someone based on their disability.

This includes people with disability in employment.

We want know how people with disability experience violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation in different workplaces.

We want to understand how often it happens in the workplace.

We would like your input on how Australian laws, policies and practices can better support people with disability in employment.

Your response

At the end of our issues paper there is a list of questions.

You do not have to answer every question.

You can respond in any way you like.

You can respond in writing or by a video recording.

To read the full issues paper, and for more details on how to respond, go to the Policy and Research section on our website.

Overview of responses to the Employment issues paper (Auslan)

Overview of responses to the Employment Issues paper (Auslan)


Overview of responses to the Employment Issues paper


In May 2020 the Disability Royal Commission asked for feedback about issues of employment for people with disability. We asked questions about the experiences of people with disability in employment. We asked why people with disability are less likely to be employed and have lower incomes than people without disability.

We have published a summary document of what we were told in responses. This will help inform our work and our recommendations to make a better society for people with disability.

This video is a summary of what we were told.

Employment as a human right

People talked about the human right to work in a job that they choose freely, and on an equal basis with people without disability. This right is protected in law, including the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disability.

But responses said that people with disability are disadvantaged when it comes to finding and keeping a job. This has serious impacts on their health and wellbeing throughout their life. It also means many people with disability can live in poverty.


People said they experiences different barriers to employment. These barriers can cause violence against, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability.

Attitudinal barriers – like negative attitudes towards people with disability. For example employers may have low expectations of people with disability. Or employers may discriminate against people with disability, either in the recruitment process by not providing job advertisements in accessible formats or Auslan. Or once a person with disability gets a job, by not providing supports or adjustments for them. Most response said negative attitudes by employers and the wider community was the most significant barrier to positive outcomes for people with disability.

Structural barriers – like government policies that may discourage people to work. For example employees with disability may lose their Disability Support Pension if they work too much.

Environmental barriers – like old buildings that don’t have ramps, accessible toilets, signs in braille, hearing loops or an SMS number in lifts.

Organisational barriers – such as workplaces that don’t make reasonable adjustments for people with disability like having captioning or Auslan interpreters. This can mean people with disability are excluded or even retrenched.

Recommendations for change and examples of good practice

Responses said:

  • transition for school leavers into employment needs to be better planned and supported
  • people with disability who experience violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation in the work place, or when looking for a job, need clear and accessible ways to report it
  • when discrimination happens in the workplace, there should be stronger penalties and consequences
  • there needs to be better systems and support to help people with disability find and keep a job.

The most common examples of good practice were where employment services and supports were tailored to suit an individual’s needs, goals or skills. And where employers were trained, resourced and skilled in making sure workplaces were inclusive, flexible and accessible.

More information

To read people’s responses and the summary document, visit the ‘Policy & research’ section on our website.