Employment and income

Compared with people without disability, people with disability generally have:

  • lower rates of labour force participation
  • lower rates of employment
  • higher rates of unemployment
  • greater reliance on government pensions or benefits as their main source of income than people without disability.

See Employment and Income for more information.

Participation in employment and the ability to be financially independent, can be affected by experiencing discrimination. This can include people with disability:

  • being directly denied employment
  • having employers fail to provide reasonable adjustments in the workplace to enable them to work safely and productively, such as providing safe access to the workplace or assistive technology.

People who have experienced discrimination because of their disability are less likely to be employed than those who have not. An estimated 1 in 3 (37%) working-age (aged 15– 64) people with disability who have experienced discrimination in the last year are employed, compared with 1 in 2 (52%) who did not (Table 1).

Table 1: Labour force status of working age people with disability(a), by whether experienced discrimination in the last 12 months, 2015 (%)

Labour force status

Has experienced discrimination

Has not experienced discrimination

Total

Employed

37.3

51.8

49.8

Full time

18.0

29.7

28.0

Part time

18.9

22.1

21.7

Unemployed

11.7

4.5

5.4

Not in the labour force

51.2

43.7

44.7

Total

100.0

100.0

100.0

(a) Aged 15–64 living in households.

Source: ABS 2016a.

Of people aged 15 and over with disability who avoided situations in the last year, an estimated 1 in 4 (24% or 251,000) avoided going to work. About 1 in 3 (30% or 76,000) of these experienced some form of disability discrimination in that time:

  • 1 in 5 (18%) from an employer or work colleague
  • 1 in 5 (19%) from another source (Table 2).

Table 2: People with disability(a) who avoided work because of their disability in the last 12 months, by source of discrimination, 2015

Source of discrimination

%

Estimate
(‘000)

Has experienced discrimination

30.4

76.4

Employer or work colleague

17.6

44.3

Other

18.6

46.7

Has not experienced discrimination

68.7

172.5

Total

100.0

251.1

(a)     Aged 15 and over living in households.

Note: A person may have experienced discrimination from more than 1 source, so components will not add to total. A person who experienced discrimination from more than 1 source is counted only once in aggregated totals.

Source: ABS 2016b.

People with disability who experience disability discrimination at work (from an employer or colleague) are around twice as likely to avoid work as those who experience disability discrimination from another source (which may or may not be connected to their work), and around 3 times as likely as those who did not experience disability discrimination. In the last year, an estimated:

  • 64% of people aged 15 and over with disability who have experienced disability discrimination from an employer or work colleague, avoided work in that time
  • 27% who have experienced disability discrimination from another source avoided work in that time
  • 21% who did not experience disability discrimination avoided work in that time (Table 3).

Table 3: Type of situation avoided because of disability(a) in the last 12 months, by source of discrimination, 2015 (%)

Type of situation avoided

Employer or work colleague

Other source

Has not experienced discrimination

Total

Work

63.6

26.7

21.1

24.2

Other situation

86.5

97.8

95.9

95.4

(a) People aged 15 and over with disability living in households.

Note: A person may have avoided more than 1 situation, so components will not add to total. A person who avoided more than 1 situation is counted only once in aggregated totals.

Source: ABS 2016b.

Australians with disability often have lower levels of income than people without disability (see Income for more information). Those who experience disability discrimination are even more likely to have lower incomes than those who have not—75% aged 15 and over with disability who have experienced disability discrimination in the last year are in the bottom 5 income deciles, compared with 69% who had not.

References

ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) 2016a. Disability, ageing and carers, Australia: summary of findings, 2015. ABS cat. no. 4430.0. Canberra: ABS. https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/[email protected]/mf/4430.0

ABS 2016b. Microdata: disability, ageing and carers, Australia, 2015. ABS cat. no. 4430.0.30.002. Canberra: ABS. AIHW analysis of TableBuilder.