Diversity and Inclusion
The world is more diverse than ever, and this is directly reflected in the world of work. DeakinTALENT is committed to providing extra support to students and graduates who feel they are facing barriers to employment. Here we aim to provide you with some high-level guidance to navigate some of those barriers and answer common questions you might face when seeking employment. If you feel you need extra support the Deakin Diversity and Inclusion team offer further support.
In Australia, it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of one of the following protected attributes:
physical or mental disability
family or carer’s responsibilities
Most employers actively seek to increase diversity in their workplace. Evidence points to diversity helping with staff engagement, retention and productivity. There may however be instances when you believe you are at risk of being discriminated against. DeakinTALENT can help you navigate the recruitment process whether for positions advertised on the DeakinTALENT Jobs and Internships Board or vacancies you have sourced yourself.
- Discussing Disability
Sharing information about your disability is a personal decision, one that is influenced by your personal values, workplace situation and the foreseeable consequences of such a disclosure. The decision that feels right to you may feel wrong to someone else – there’s no ‘one size fits all’ solution.
The first thing you need to evaluate is whether your disability affects your ability to perform your role?
YES – You are legally obligated to disclose/share the aspects of your disability that will affect your work to your employer. Employers should never ask specific details about your disability or how you acquired it. These types of questions are inappropriate. The only questions that should be asked, include how you will perform the inherent requirements of a role and whether you will need any workplace adjustments. All information shared beyond this, is completely up to you.
NO – If you feel that your work won’t be impacted by your disability, then the decision to share information rests solely in your hands. Most employers prefer individuals to share information about their disability with them, and to do so as early as possible. There are a number of reasons why this might be beneficial.
Pros – Reasons to share
- Discussing your situation gives you and your employer an opportunity to talk about any support, adjustments or changes you might need to help you perform your role or aid in your recovery when returning to work.
- You can be proactive and come in with possible solutions – such as informing your employer of the relevant funding available to assist with adaptive technologies.
- You foster a supportive environment and by sharing your experiences, you’re helping to change people’s attitudes toward disability.
- You present as an honest, self-aware, proactive and resourceful employee.
- You call out the elephant in the room. Being open with your colleagues can help to avoid rumors or gossip.
- You get to be you – no apologies, no judgements.
- Making adjustments to your schedule or workload can help you be more productive when you’re at work.
- If you need to make a formal disability discrimination complaint at a later date, telling your employer helps to protect your rights.
Cons – Reasons not to share
- Your disability may not affect your ability to do your job.
- You may not need any adjustments to your work tasks at the time – if this changes you can consider sharing at a later date.
- You don’t want to be treated differently by your colleagues.
- You may fear not being offered the position or losing your job. Despite the protections in place some employers fail to provide the legal level of support or follow legislative requirements.
- You may be worried about potential discrimination, harassment or reduced opportunities for career progression.
- You may already have adequate support networks outside the workplace and feel there’s not much to gain by talking about your condition.
It is generally not considered standard practice for applicants to share their disability in their resume and/or application letter unless:
- it is relevant to the position
- work related adjustments are required to ensure equal opportunity in the selection process and/or
- the organisation is supportive of equity practices.
Your disability should not be relevant in the process of seeking employment. As with all steps in the job recruitment process, the emphasis in applying for employment should be on the skills and experiences of the applicant to meet the requirements of the position.
It’s up to you when you raise the topic of disability, when you feel it is appropriate. If you need adjustments made for the job interview it may be best to outline the relevant adjustments required and provide more detail at the interview.
You may also decide to wait until the job offer stage so that you know your selection has been made on the basis of your skills and experience alone.
Businesses are dedicating a great deal of time and money into making their workplaces inclusive. They want to attract the best talent and from there work with each individual in a way that best allows them to succeed. They actively recruit from all backgrounds and often have specific diversity and inclusion targets to meet. If this is the case with your application/employer then disclosing earlier in the process may help not hinder your success.
Applicants are responsible for ensuring that they fully understand the inherent requirements of the position and determine whether they have the ability to perform them when applying for a position of employment. Inherent requirements can include qualifications, hours of work per week, travel requirements etc. It should be noted that work related adjustments may often assist you in meeting the ‘inherent requirements’ of the position. Choosing not to share your disability with an employer in the first instance means that you will be unable to request work related adjustments, which might impact your entry to the organisation.
If you have shared your disability in your letter of application, resume and/or application form to highlight the need for work related adjustments in the workplace, it is your responsibility to be prepared to discuss this when it is addressed, either in the interview, when the position is offered or when employed in the position.
If you choose not to share your disability in your letter of application, resume or application form, and require work related adjustments in the workplace, it is your responsibility to be prepared to discuss this with the organisation, either when a job interview has been offered, in the interview, when the position is offered or when employed in the position.
The Federal Privacy Act 1988 and other similar state acts provide a standard for organisations to be responsible in collecting, using and disclosing personal information as well as keeping information secure, being open about the collection and information handling practices and providing anonymity where possible.
If you have shared your disability in your letter of application or resume, it is the employers responsibility to ensure that you are not excluded from the application process due to your disability. The employer and interview panel are required to assess all applications, including any applicants identified as having a disability, by evaluating whether the information presented in the application addresses the inherent requirements of the position.
An employers main obligations under the Disability Discrimination Act (1992) is:
- not to discriminate directly by less favourable treatment
- not to discriminate indirectly by treatment which is less favourable in its impact
- to make work related adjustments where required
- to avoid and prevent harassment.
Reasonable adjustments let an employee with disability safely perform the essential requirements of their job. Reasonable adjustments include changes to premises, facilities, equipment, work practices or training that could help a person with disability do a job. Reasonable adjustments also require that an employee with disability has equal employment opportunities such as recruitment processes, promotion and training opportunities as well as equal terms and conditions of employment.
If reasonable adjustments are required to help an employee with disability do his or her job, the organisation’s costs may be covered by the Employment Assistance Fund.
To be aware of your legal rights familiarise yourself with the DDA (Disability Discrimination Act)
- Employment Support
The Australian Government Job Access Website provides great resources for employees and employers alike. Here you can learn about workplace modifications and assessments, wage subsidies, productivity payments and workplace support.
RecruitAbility encourages the employment of people with disability in the Australian Public Service (APS). A vacancy advertised under RecruitAbility guarantees you will progress to the first-level assessment or interview stage if you opt into RecruitAbility and meet the minimum requirements of the role. Find out more about RecruitAbility.
Disability Employment Service (DES) providers can help if you’re looking for work or have a job.
If you’re looking for work, a DES provider can help you:
- get ready to work
- train in specific job skills
- write your resumé
- train in interview skills
- look for jobs that suit you.
The EAF gives financial help to eligible people with disability and mental health conditions and employers to buy work related modifications, equipment, Auslan services and workplace assistance and support services. The EAF is available to eligible people with disability who are about to start a job, are self-employed or who are currently working. It is also available to people with disability who need Auslan assistance or special work equipment to look for and prepare for a job.
Many Graduate Employers are seeking to hire for inclusivity. Below are some employers who seek to recruit people with a disability:
- Dandelion Project
- Vision Australia Grad Program
- Commonwealth Bank – ENABLE network supports access and inclusion for employees, customers and the community
- NAB – NABility program supports employees and provides resources to drive a more inclusive workplace culture
- Xceptional – Tech employment for people on the autism spectrum
- ANZ – ANZ Abilities Network, who advocate for a more supportive environment for employees and customers, ANZ Spectrum Program
- RISE – Victorian Department of Health and Human Services program to create career opportunities for people on the autism spectrum to work as Records Management Officers
- Compass Group – Founding member of the Australian Network on Disability and committed to ‘Closing the Gap’, partner to Act-Belong-Commit, a health promotion campaign run by Mentally Healthy WA
Australian Network on Disability
The Australian Network on Disability’s Stepping Into program makes it easier for students with disability to transition from study to employment. You’ll gain paid, hands-on work experience in a prestigious private or public-sector organisation.
The internships run for a minimum 152 hours (four weeks, if working full time) during the summer and winter semester breaks.
Find out more about the Stepping Into Internships programs
The Australian Network on Disability’s PACE Mentoring program helps bridge the employment gap for jobseekers and students with disability. You’ll be matched to an experienced professional who’ll help you identify and reach your personal development goals and build your workplace confidence.
Placements run for a 16-week period and you’ll meet with you mentor for a minimum of eight sessions during that time.
Find out more about PACE Mentoring