IGPA Graduate Research Forum

Beyond Questions of Difference: The Experience of Working with a Disability in the Australian Public Service

Wed 28 May 2014Trish Gray / 10.30 am - 12.00 pm NATSEM, Building 24, Room A4 230 (Media room), University of Canberra


The Australian Government has a policy that people with disabilities can gain and hold meaningful employment that provides wages and career opportunities that reflect performance. It is not readily known, however, the extent to which such a policy goal has been realised. Uniquely, the Australian Public Service has large datasets which offer a window in the lived experience of people with disability in the workplace. Analysis of these datasets offers an opportunity not only to benchmark progress against again policy goals, but also to gain insight into the kinds of barriers and challenges which PWDs may face in terms of an equitable experience at work.

A preliminary review of these datasets has found a discrepancy with regards peoples’ readiness to disclose to this employer whether they have a disability.  In 2013, the official rate (determined by employees choosing to disclose disability to their employer e.g. with regard seeking reasonable accommodations) of employees having a disability was 2.9%. However, when employees are surveyed anonymously, 6.8% identified themselves as having a disability. Notably the nature of disability (sic) (e.g. sensory, motor etc) was fairly evenly distributed. Why would it be then that in seemingly safer circumstances, employees with disability are prepared to disclose, but in other circumstances not?

Drawing on these datasets (n =102,219) this paper reports on the first of a series of studies which explores these questions. It will enable a social profile to be presented on those who disclose and those who do not and in turn also enable further analysis to be conducted around issues such as unconscious bias in the workplace, performance management, leadership, bullying and engagement at work.

For enquiries about Wednesday seminars, please contact pia.rowe | at | canberra.edu.au

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