Study finds unemployed people with disability have low wellbeing

Posted 2 years ago by Anna Christian
Research has found the wellbeing of job seekers is lower than that of people who are employed, but also that the wellbeing of job seekers with disability is even lower. [Source: Shutterstock]
Research has found the wellbeing of job seekers is lower than that of people who are employed, but also that the wellbeing of job seekers with disability is even lower. [Source: Shutterstock]

Research collected by atWork Australia to help the employment services industry understand the needs of job seekers has found that people with disability, injury, or a health condition have the lowest wellbeing out of any other demographic.

As an employment services provider, atWork Australia says it will use the research to inform its own programs, but that the findings should also be used to improve support for all job seekers as they show where specific groups of people need targeted support.

The Huber Social Wellbeing Measurement Framework was used for the research and 1,200 job seekers were asked to evaluate their satisfaction with life.

The research, which has been developed into the atWork Australia Job Seeker Wellbeing Index, found the wellbeing of job seekers is lower than that of people who are employed, but also that the wellbeing of job seekers with disability, injury, or a health condition is even lower.

However, people with disability who felt appreciated, were a part of a community, and had a variety of healthy relationships had higher wellbeing. 

The report noted that alongside these factors, employment was more strongly connected to higher wellbeing for people with disability than any other group assessed.

The top factors which influenced the wellbeing of people with disability were pride in achievements and a sense of purpose which, combined with the connection to employment, show that this cohort wants to work but there may be barriers to them finding a long term and meaningful job.

Group Executive of Employment Services for atWork Australia, Sotir Kondov, says those barriers are why the Index research is important.

“We know that employment is a major factor in a person’s wellbeing, but what if we can understand and boost wellbeing while in the process of finding employment?” says Mr Kondov. 

“We worked with Huber Social on this inaugural atWork Australia Job Seeker Wellbeing Index to better understand this relationship and to explore opportunities for tailoring our support of job seekers to become even more effective.

“When factors that contribute to a job seekers’ wellbeing are addressed, the result will be better opportunities to meaningfully engage with and maintain employment opportunities.”

When launching the Index, Federal Assistant Minister for Youth and Employment Luke Howarth said the research has come at an appropriate time.

“As we emerge from lockdowns, the ability to bounce back and help people back into employment is more important than ever, and it’s particularly important to me and the role I’m in,” he says.

“The Australian Government is really focused on a jobs-led recovery, and we want to help job seekers into work, just like atWork Australia do. 

“By working together with Governments, employers, job service providers and job seekers, we want to ensure job seekers have the best chance to get into work…this report helps to inform how employment service providers can better support job seekers. And what I particularly liked about it was what job seekers need to make sure they are confident for finding work.”

The Index’s findings are in line with statistics from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), which has previously found people with disability are twice as likely to be unemployed compared to people without disability and almost twice as likely to experience long term unemployment.

People with disability are also more likely to be looking for a job for longer than people without disability.

Of the job seekers involved in atWork Australia’s research, 60 percent had been out of work for a year or more.

Previous research uncovered barriers to work

In August, atWork Australia partnered with Monash University to release a research report into the barriers to employment for job seekers, including those with disability.

It also investigated the approaches which are more successful in seeing people return to work after long term unemployment, which is an important part of supporting people with disability to find work.

The report, titled Long term unemployed: barriers and approaches to optimising return to work outcomes. A snapshot review of global literature, says a third of Australians who were unemployed in June this year had been unemployed for longer than 12 months.

People who were long term unemployed typically had lower skills or qualifications, had culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, were single parents, lived regionally or were people living with disability.

While the barriers to work identified in the report included education and training, they also included behavioural and interpersonal skills, practical skills for work, and job seekers coming from vulnerable demographics.

The report recommended barriers to work be reduced through individual assessments as part of employment services to ensure every individual receives the right job preparation for them.

Prevention measures to stop people from becoming long term unemployed were also recommended.

AtWork Australia says its next step is to measure the wellbeing of people who have been recently employed to determine the success of programs which get job seekers into work.