Economic independence

Having limited employment opportunities can affect a person’s finances. Strengthening the financial independence of people with disability by ensuring they have an adequate income is critical to providing them with increased financial security, economic independence and an appropriate standard of living. An adequate income gives people more choice and control over their lives, enabling their participation in community life. The income support system provides an important safety net for people with disability who are unable to work or cannot find employment (Australia’s Disability Strategy 2021–2031).

Public sector employment

This measure is being included in annual reporting for the first time, and includes analysis of the historical data to baseline, as well as post-baseline results.

An Australian Public Service (APS) workforce that better reflects the diversity of the Australian community will help produce programs, policies and services that meet the diverse needs of the community. People with disability bring lived experiences and expertise to the workplace that can make a positive difference. Employment of people with disability creates a larger talent pool, increasing creativity, productivity and morale. Overall, this benefits the agency and all employees, not just those with disability (Australian Public Service Disability Employment Strategy 2020–2025).

The Outcomes Framework intended to track the proportion of public sector employees with disability. Public sector employees are those employed at all levels of the government: Commonwealth, state and local. Measure wording has been revised in this report to reflect available data more accurately (see Appendix B: List of measures).  

Available data do not currently allow reporting in the wider public sector. The measure is reported here as:

  • Proportion of Australian Public Service employees with disability.

Data for this measure is sourced from the APS Employment Database (APSED) maintained by the Australian Public Service Commission. Data is supplied to APSED from the HR systems of APS agencies.

System measure: Proportion of Australian Public Service employees with disability 

Desired outcome: Increase in the proportion

Data source: APSED

Results at baseline: December 2021

  • In December 2021, 4.9% of APS employees had disability. This was 1.4 percentage point higher than in June 2011 (3.5%).
  • The overall trend for the period leading up to and including baseline (June 2011 to December 2021) was upwards (Figure 2.7). Fitting a regression model to the data shows a modelled increase of 0.06 of a percentage point every 6 months, and a modelled increase of 42% over the reference period June 2011 to December 2021 (baseline). 

Latest results: December 2022

  • In December 2022, 4.9% of APS employees had disability. This was the same as at baseline (December 2021) (4.9%), indicating no change. 
  • Overall, across the historical and post-baseline data there were almost consistent small increases. Between December 2021 and June 2022 there was a small decrease (0.2 percentage points) from 4.9% to 4.7% before returning to 4.9% in December 2022.

Things to consider when interpreting results

  • Data on the disability status of APS employees is also included in the APS Employee Census. The 2022 APS Employee Census recorded that 10% of APS employees had disability. This is twice as high as the proportion reported in the APSED data, supplied via agency human resource systems (4.9%). A potential explanation for the difference is that employees may be concerned about their disability status being recorded in their agency’s HR system but comfortable providing this information in a confidential survey. 

Latest results: 4.9% (December 2022)

Baseline: 4.9% (December 2021)

Progress status (preliminary): No change

Figure 2.7: Proportion of Australian Public Service employees with disability, June 2011 to December 2022

The data in the graph and the table below show the proportion of Australian Public Service (APS) employees (aged 15 and over) who have disability. Biannual data from June 2011 to December 2022 are used. In December 2022, 4.9% of APS employees had disability, compared with 3.5% in June 2011.

Source: Australian Public Service Employment Database (APSED) | Data source overview

For figure notes, see Appendix C: Figure notes and sources.

For the latest data and breakdowns of the data, see Australia’s Disability Strategy Outcomes Framework | Public sector employment.

Median gross income gap

Looking at a person’s income level can provide insight into potential inequality in standard of living (AIHW 2022). This measure reports the difference in the median weekly gross income between people with disability and people without disability who are of working age (15–64 years) (ABS 2019).

The desired population outcome for this measure is to see an increase in people with disability experiencing economic independence.

Population measure: Gap in median gross income for a person with disability aged 15–64 years compared with people without disability

Desired outcome: Reduction in the median income gap

Data source: ABS SDAC

For the latest data and breakdowns of the data, see Australia’s Disability Strategy Outcomes Framework | Median gross income gap.

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