Jobs sought for 4.4 million people with disability in Australia

Posted 8 months ago by David McManus
People may find it easy to complain about their jobs, but the alternative is a grim reality for many eager applicants with disability. [Source: Shutterstock]
People may find it easy to complain about their jobs, but the alternative is a grim reality for many eager applicants with disability. [Source: Shutterstock]

Dane Cross sat down with Talking Disability journalist David McManus to share his thoughts on untapped potential in the Australian job market.

Key points:

  • Spinal Life Australia advocates, Dane Cross and Mark Townend AM, have called for Australian recruiters to offer equal employment opportunities
  • The theme for Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Week — September 3 – 9, 2023 — is employment of people with disability
  • Nationally, only 48 percent of people aged 15 – 64, with disability were employed, compared to 80 percent employment for those without


Ahead of Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Week — September 3 – 9, 2023 — Spinal Life Australia’s Senior Advisor for Access and Advocacy Dane Cross, along with SLA Chief Executive Officer Mark Townend, turned their attention to employment inequality in Australia.

From July – September, employers across the nation were estimated to increase staffing levels by another two points, although the 4.4 million Australians who live with disability were still facing systemic hurdles.

Spinal Life Australia representatives cited data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare to show how hard it is for unemployed people with an impairment to find work — of which, 93 percent claimed to have significant difficulty when job hunting.

“There are Government incentives, there’s workplace subsidies, there are all of the support services and organisations that are supporting businesses to employ people with disability,” Mr Cross explained.

“I guess it’s become easier for employers — the stereotypes [and] the stigmas are starting to be moved. There’s a lot of opportunity, at the moment, for employers to engage with employees seeking work with disability.

“There are vacancies across the board, in all industry types, that could very well be filled by people with disability.”

In the lead-up to Spinal Injury Awareness Week, Mr Cross called on businesses to engage with employment and accessibility initiatives, such as the ‘EnABLED Business’ program.

Dane said that programs such as ‘EnABLED’ could empower businesses through simple measures, to ensure their organisation is disability-friendly; such as through providing tailored and targeted one-on-one mentoring to businesses, disability awareness training teams, as well as connections to potential employees with disability.

“Our ‘EnABLED Business’ program was funded by the Queensland Government’s Growing Workforce Participation Fund […] was designed to address a gap in the market. We know that right now there are disability employment services working with people with disability to make them more employable, find them jobs and assist them into getting into that space,” Mr Cross added.

“What the gap was and is, in many areas across Australia, was employers who were willing to take on people with disability — and it’s not even willing to take on, but just to have the confidence to be able to work to employing people with disability.

“It’s a message to businesses, in the sense that creating an inclusive workplace is not only the right thing to do, but it’s good for business — it leads to a more innovative, loyal and satisfied workforce. It enhances the service you provide to your customers, so I’d encourage all businesses to take the first step in that journey of employing someone with disability.”


For more information about EnABLED, SLA Awareness Week or employment supports when returning to work, please visit Spinal Life Australia.

Reach out to the team at Talking Disability and send us an email regarding your employment journey. Was it easy or an absolute nightmare to find work as a person with disability?