10 strategies for improving employment outcomes for people with disability

Andrew Thies, Deborah Warr, Shelley Mallett and Diane Brown

What needs to be done to reform policies and practices that aim to increase the participation of people with disability in employment?

At a glance

We identify 10 intersecting strategies that will drive systemic change to improve employment outcomes for people with disability in employment.

Dive deeper

The next two years are critical for improving employment outcomes for people with disability, as government is overhauling multi-billion dollar employment systems.

In addition, the economic aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and structural changes to Australia’s labour market will put extra pressure on jobseekers facing disadvantage, including people with disability.

In this report we build on evidence examined by the Brotherhood St. Laurence (BSL) in collaboration with the Disability and Health Unit at the University of Melbourne and BSL’s long experience in developing, delivering and evaluating labour market programs for people vulnerable to economic and social exclusion.

The report offers a blueprint to guide government reforms to multiple systems that shape the employment opportunities of people with disability.

The 10 strategies are:

  1. Shift community attitudes towards people with disability
  2. Develop national goals and evaluation mechanisms to track progress
  3. Create agile funding structures and mechanisms that support person-centred employment policy
  4. Implement an expansive stewardship role for government
  5. Adopt a place-centred approach to employment while enabling wider opportunities
  6. Design policies that promote mainstream employment
  7. Integrate complementary social supports into employment programs for young people with disability
  8. Use customised approaches to employment placement and support for both employers and employees
  9. Support interagency collaboration
  10. Promote the sustainability of the disability support workforce through ongoing training and enhancing job security

These are not exhaustive of strategies that could support people with disability to thrive in employment. They should be understood as a web of interacting initiatives.

Last updated on 12 January 2022



Timeline of policy updates affecting disability employment 2021–2023

  • From November 2021 – Government to consider pilots to test new ways of working in Disability Employment Services (DSS)
  • End 2021 – Australia’s Disability Strategy (ADS) and National Disability Strategy (NDES) released (DSS)
  • 1 February 2022 – Public consultation on DES reforms closes (DSS)
  • End 2022 – NDIS Participant Employment Strategy 2019–2022 expires (NDIA)
  • 1 July 2023 – New DES commences (DSS)
  • End 2023 – Community Development Program (CDP) expires