30 November 2023

Working without barriers, every day.

Image: A woman in a grey t-shirt with blonder hair is signing to a colleague.

Unemployment of people with disability is a pressing social, economic and human rights issue, but it is an issue we can disrupt and change.

Statistics reveal the magnitude of the issue. In Australia, one in five individuals has a disability, but a staggering 93% of working-age people with disabilities report encountering barriers to employment. Less than half of working-age people with disabilities are currently employed, and leadership positions are disproportionately underrepresented, often with jobs that are short-term.

Life Without Barriers acknowledges the right of all Australians with disabilities to wage equity, economic security, and fulfilling careers. Our policy, Working Without Barriers, extends to providing ongoing, meaningful career development pathways aligned with individual interests, enabling financial security, and offering opportunities for open or self-employment.

Image: An autistic woman is sitting with a laptop and a black cat. She is wearing a sunflower lanyard - signifying an invisible disability.

This goes beyond entry-level roles. There is an under-representation of leaders with disabilities and their invaluable contributions to increased workforce productivity.

Emma Bennison, Chief Innovation Officer at Life Without Barriers, said there must be a multifaceted approach.

“What is needed to see a change in the employment rates for people with disability is people with lived experience leading the design process," Emma Bennison said.

“For too long, the views, voice and experiences of people with a disability have been placed on the periphery when forming the government programs that are put in place to support them."

Our workplaces and communities benefit from the unique skills, perspectives, innovative problem-solving capabilities and experience people with disability bring to the workplace and organisations can benefit from their significant contribution to increased workforce productivity.

The under-representation of leaders with disability currently hinders Australian workplaces. We recognise the invaluable role of diverse leadership including people, with disability as an important priority for our workplaces and economy.

Image: A close-up photo of a blind man looking into the camera.

Our 2022-2025 Access Inclusion and Employment Plan (AIEP) outlines Life Without Barrier’s commitments to improving access and creating employment without barriers for people with disability. Central to the plan is for 15% of our workforce to identify as having a disability in the next three years.

As of 2023, 12.4% of employees with disability are in leadership roles.

Claire Robbs, Life Without Barriers Chief Executive, said bold and accountable measures are needed for there to be an impactful change in the employment barriers for people with disability.

“Beyond our workforce, we intend to expand the support we provide now to NDIS participants and young people with disability.  It is deeply concerning that young people with disability are not entering the workforce for close to 8 years after finishing their education.” Ms Robbs said.

We are committed to creating an inclusive and accessible workplace where employees with disability can thrive.

Image: A woman with a prosthetic arm is working at a computer with post-it notes on it.

We strive to offer real jobs and meaningful careers for all of our employees. One of the ways we do this is through participation in the Australian Network on Disability's Stepping Into Internship program. The program offers practical paid work experience for students with disability who may face significant obstacles in gaining employment.

We asked two of our employees who secured permanent employment with us via the program to share their stories, you can read their stories here.

Careers at Life Without Barriers

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