The University of Canberra has just published a report about employment of people with disability in the Australian public service. The qualitative study that underpins the report includes many quotes from employees with disability which give an excellent sense of what they are experiencing. The study covers seven Australian Government departments and identifies critical dilemmas for the service as a whole. Disclosing a disability can either get you good support from your manager, or it can hold you back. Not understanding the resilience that living with disability creates, others often see weakness rather than strength. The point is well made by one participant,
“The fact that they don’t want to put more pressure on me and I know I’m ready, that’s very hard to take. They don’t know about my journey. If they knew about the challenges that I’ve met there would be no doubts in their minds.”
There are several recommendations resulting from the research, which should be applied across all areas of employment, not just the Australian Public Service. Areas for improvement include: the current definition of disability which disempowers rather than empowers; the need to upskill managers in how to work differently; and for staff training that includes interacting with people with disability, not just undertaking e-learning modules.
You can download the report, Doing it Differently: Staff perceptions of the barriers to workplace participation experienced by public servants with disability in the Australian Public Service.