In 2016 there were 782,891 Disability Support Pension (DSP) recipients in Australia.  75% of these individuals were single, and 74.3% did not own a home. 91.8% did not earn any income at all in 2016.  But – how many of these individuals have completed a degree at University and haven’t put it to work yet, even if they desperately want to? 

Interestingly, the answer to this question is hard to find. It is not specifically itemised as an example in the ‘gained qualifications’ section of a DSP Application (Item 181) – the examples of qualifications are “courses, tickets, licenses, certificates, diplomas”.  Notably, no qualification higher than a diploma is provided as a suggested entry for the applicant.

University Specialist Employment Partnerships (USEP) collects voluntary and anonymous information from students who engage with the service delivery model.  Within the first 80 student questionnaire responses there are 28 individuals who receive a Disability Support Pension (35% of respondents).  

All 28 of these respondents on DSP have voluntarily approached us and asked for support from a graduate specialist consultant to receive advice and linkages related to their disability and getting a graduate job.  It is clear for at least these 28 students on Disability Support Pensions that the reason they have engaged in study is the same as any other student – because they want to use their degree to find graduate work.

Often students have a perception that an employer will not want them because of their disability, and are fearful of sharing it with their workplace yet some disability confident employers are saying the exact opposite – that they want a breadth of experiences in their organisation and want to be welcoming to applicants with disability in order to benefit their business.

So far there have been some positive results from matching these two (graduates with disability and known disability confident graduate employers) – including students being supported into fantastic graduate roles that were otherwise unknown to them. 

While many individual Universities and projects do already provide great career resources and support to students with disabilities, could this be fixed at the systemic level so that all University students everywhere have access to the same information and support? 

Upcoming graduates with disability have told us that they want skilled and disability confident career support that can:

  • Help them to discover disability confident employers (who are the safe ones to share information about their disability with?)
  • Provide support and coaching surrounding having the conversation about their disability with an employer – when, where, how, and what will happen if they do.
  • Be available to talk through disability related hurdles as they occur in the workplace and give advice about how to navigate this,
  • Get industry related work experience prior to graduation with a disability confident placement opportunity.

Join us on the journey as we continue to unpack this discussion about supporting graduates with disability to maximise their human potential at work.  If you’d like to learn more about supporting graduates with disability into work, you can keep in touch with University Specialist Employment Partnerships (USEP) by registering for our discussion listfollowing us on LinkedIn, or using the contact form available on this website.