Work is a powerful tool to help people feel fulfilled, to build new skills and to create a sense of independence and self-worth.
For people with a disability, there are work opportunities available and NDIS supports for participants who wish to pursue employment. Employers can also benefit from employing people with a disability.
This guide covers the basics that NDIS participants and providers should know in regards to employment for people with disabilities.
How NDIS participants can find work in Australia
Australia has a government program called Disability Employment Services (DES), which exists to help people with a disability find suitable job opportunities.
NDIS offers additional employment support for participants who aren't able to get assistance through DES.
There are many resources and people who are ready to help NDIS participants transition into employment, but there are still many challenges to overcome.
A recent NDIS survey found the rates of employment for people with disabilities are low compared to what they ought to be. Fifty-three percent of people with a disability are employed, while 25 percent of people with a severe disability are employed.
Even for those who want to work, the following barriers may prevent many from pursuing their employment goals:
- Lack of accessibility in the workplace
- Lack of suitable transition supports between leaving school and entering the workforce
- Mismatches in jobs and abilities
- Sense of isolation or not belonging in the workplace
- The perception that NDIS participants aren’t allowed to work
- Employers wondering if it’s too difficult to employ an NDIS participant
- Under-employment of people with a disability (such as an employer giving limited hours or menial tasks)
While these barriers can seem limiting, the good news is that many employers are mindful of the benefits of employing those with a disability and know they can provide meaningful opportunities. With this in mind, NDIS participants shouldn’t feel discouraged from exploring job options.
It’s also worth noting that NDIS can provide funding for supports in the workplace, known as Supported Employment. This department is designed to assist with the arrangements that employers have made to assist their employees who have a disability to achieve their workplace objectives.
The benefits of employment for NDIS participants and employers
Employers are the gateway to job opportunities for people of all ability levels. By employing people with disabilities, business owners benefit in the following ways:
- Personal and professional fulfillment by providing equal opportunities for all workers
- Improved customer engagement and their public image
- New perspectives and unique talents in the workforce
- Improved retention through employee loyalty
For people with a disability, there are tangible benefits to being employed. They report that they’re better off in almost all aspects of life by having a job. Through work, NDIS participants enjoy:
- Positive benefits from socialising with others
- Security and fulfillment from earning an income
- The stability of a routine
- The mental benefits of staying busy and learning
- Fulfillment that comes through setting and achieving NDIS and personal goals
The success of employment programs in conjunction with the NDIS depends on participants, the NDIS, employers, providers, and others all working together. The NDIA has set a comprehensive goal to enable 30 percent of participants of working age to be employed in paid work by June 30, 2023. To learn about the specific strategy behind this goal, see pages 12-22 of the NDIS Participant Employment Strategy guide
Positive outcomes of employment for those with disabilities
In a diverse, robust economy like Australia’s, there are opportunities for everyone. Analysis of participant employment outcomes helps show why employment is so beneficial for those with disabilities. Takeaways from the NDIS analysis include:
- Setting employment goals through NDIS is positively associated with finding and retaining paid work.
- Involvement in community groups is associated with better employment outcomes.
- Participants aged 25 and over who receive NDIS employment funding have greater rates of employment success.
- Family members and carers of those with disabilities benefit when the person with a disability finds formal paid work.
- Formal work provides an increase in income and the potential for families to live a better life.
- The economy benefits from more productive allocation of labour by helping informal carers with highly valuable specific capital (such as law, computer science, and business skills) to return to work.
Learn more about employment outcomes by viewing the full report here.
Finding fulfillment through employment
At All Disability, we are privileged to work with people who have disabilities. Here is what our team member Rod has to say about having the ability to work:
“I feel privileged and thankful to have the opportunity to work. Equality is important and having the opportunity to work helps me feel appreciated and accepted.” - Rod, an NDIS participant
As an employer, it’s fulfilling to create opportunities for everyone and to build a strong, diverse workspace with people from all walks of life. If you are an employer and you’re interested in employing those with a disability, view the government-provided resources that exist to help employers create equal opportunity workspaces.