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Disability Programs

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Department of Defence


Disability

Key Objective: Remove barriers to, and encourage the participation of, people with disability in the Defence workforce. Increase representation of people with disability in Defence APS in support of Government initiatives, and build an organisation where diversity is respected and valued, and position Defence as an employer of choice for all Australians.

Background

The employment of people with disability is important to ensure their full participation in the Australian community. Defence recognises that people with disability bring valuable skills to the workforce and strives to enable all personnel to contribute to achieving Defence’s goals. Defence has stated its commitment to a fair and equitable workplace for all personnel, and this includes providing a work environment that values and respects the diverse nature of the workforce.

The Australian Government has identified that despite the tight labour market in Australia, people with disability are an under-utilised resource and is seeking to improve practices with regards to the employment of people with disability.

The definition of disability is extensive and includes not only loss of bodily or mental functions, but also the presence in the body of organisms capable of causing disease or illness. A disability may be an impairment, condition, or illness, may be visible or hidden, may be permanent or temporary and may have minimal or substantial impact on a person’s abilities.

As at 1 December 2018, people with disability represent 3.6% of the ongoing Defence APS workforce 1 equivalent with 3.6% of the wider APS (from the APSC State of the Service Report 2016-17). Defence recognises that to meet future workforce demands, we must have strategies to support the employment of people with disability as they represent a growing proportion of the Australian labour market. In response, Defence has developed the Disability Action Plan which seeks to develop an inclusive work environment that enables personnel with disability to contribute to Defence’s goals.

Although the ADF is exempt, to a certain extent, from the discrimination provisions in the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 due to the stringent requirements of employment required in the ADF, Defence also recognises their commitment to members of the ADF (and APS) who have developed a temporary or permanent disability whilst employed by Defence and must manage the employment of these personnel accordingly. Of note, the Support for Wounded Injured or Ill Program (SWIIP) provides support to wounded, injured or ill ADF members throughout their Service careers and after transition from the ADF.

The following specific actions outline the strategies to enable the employment of all people with disability in Defence.

Themes

Attract

  • Promote Defence APS as a workplace that is supportive and welcoming of the employment of people with disability.
  • Promote the employment of people with disability in Defence APS through disability networks.

Recruit

  • Ensure the recruitment process for Defence APS positions are free from unlawful discrimination against a person with a disability (or that person’s associates).
  • Provide access to premises information and assist with reasonable adjustments as required.
  • Improve recruitment practices to enable more candidates with disability to enter Defence APS.
  • Develop effective processes to use affirmative measures to employ people with an intellectual disability in the Defence APS.

Develop

  • Ensure that employment, training and development, and promotional opportunities are free from unlawful discrimination against people with disability.
  • Increase knowledge and understanding of disability by providing educational and practical information on disability and supporting people with disability.
  • Provide support to people with disability and supervisors of people with disability to assist them to understand their responsibilities, undertake reasonable adjustments in the workplace and remove barriers for employment to allow people with disability to effectively perform and progress.
  • Provide accessible training, traineeships and mentoring opportunities for people with disability.

Retain

  • Create a supportive environment that recognises and values diversity and the contribution people with disability make.
  • Provide appropriate support and advice network frameworks.
  • Implement strategies/policies/processes to retain skills of people with disability or people who develop a disability (temporarily or permanently) in Defence where possible.
  • Provide flexible career options to enable people with disability to take career breaks and return to the organisation as needed.
  • Research factors affecting the employment of people with disability and implement strategies to address identified issues.
  • Identify barriers to flexibility and facilitate flexible work practices to accommodate individual needs of people with disability at all classifications/ranks.
  • Facilitate the transition of ADF members who acquire a disability to alternative employment within Defence if feasible.
  • Undertake reasonable adjustments in the workplace to enable people with disability to work and reach their full potential.
  • Address accessibility needs and assist with reasonable adjustments as required.
  • Ensure all people are respected and involved in decisions about their work so as to ensure any disability can be adjusted for as necessary.

Transition

  • Maintain connections with personnel taking a career break or extended leave due to temporary or permanent disability.
  • Implement policies and processes to enable previously Defence employed personnel to return to the organisation.

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