Are you receiving Disability Services support on campus to support you with your studies?  Are you worried that when you move into employment you may have to work without these adjustments?

Universities and TAFEs are required under the Education Standards to provide a range of reasonable adjustments and accommodations so you can access and participate in education on the same basis as other students.  During your time as a student you may have met with staff on campus to discuss your requirements and have had modifications and solutions put in place to meet your needs.   This means you may have access to software packages, adapted equipment, or transcription services.   You may also be utilising changes your institution have made over time to improve their buildings and facilities accessibility.

Can you get this type of support in the workplace?

It can be more difficult for people with disability to break into the employment market and for employers to feel confident in providing an inclusive and accessible workplace.  The Australian Government recognises these challenges and funds an invaluable service – JobAccess – as an easy way to provide up-to-date information, advice and support for people with disability, employers and employment service providers.  It offers a website and free advisory hotline to help you find and keep a job, or get promoted to a better job.

A photo of a person in a suit with one arm raised, at an office chair in a formal environment.
A familiar interview scenario – “Ok, thanks for letting us know, what’s the next step?”

JobAccess can also help employers be more motivated and confident in employing people with disability, and helps them tap into an Employment Assistance Fund to cover the costs of making changes to their workplaces.  This may be modifications to the layout, buying equipment or communications technology, Auslan interpreting, and specialist support for people with mental health conditions or learning disabilities.

Just some of the many types of modifications and equipment that have been provided to employers from JobAccess under the Employment Assistance Fund include:

  • Providing a desk that can be adjusted for height if you are using a wheelchair.
  • Relocating filing cabinets to allow access if you have mobility issues.
  • Increasing lighting if you have vision impairment.
  • Modifying the work car you need to drive.
  • Provision of clear markings and colour contrasts on steps or pathways.
  • A parking space close to the work premises if you are using a wheelchair.
  • Building modifications to allow access to bathroom facilities.
  • Lifting equipment if you cannot safely lift heavy objects.
  • Telephone typewriter (TTY) phone access if you are deaf, have hearing loss or have a speech impairment.
  • Screen-reading software if you have vision impairment.

However, sometimes you may have challenges settling into a workplace that a piece of equipment just can’t fix.  It might be that others around don’t really understand the impact of your disability, some of the tasks you’re expected to undertake cause difficulties, you’re finding the hours long and exhausting, or you just feel generally overwhelmed and under supported with what’s expected.

JobAccess recognises that you’ll be more likely to be successful at work when your employer has a better understanding of the disability experience, and how to create a disability-friendly flexible workplace environment.  So they also can provide disability awareness training and mental health first aid training to your workplace, and give you and your employer advice on flexible work arrangements.

They endeavour to provide you and your employer with a valuable service where the “process is easy and very accessible” to help you get the start you need, and continue to progress your career pathway.

A lady wearing glasses works at a large Mac screen.
A disability aware and confident workplace designed and supported to maximise all human potential is good for everybody.

How can you as a future employee harness the JobAccess resources?

Here are three ways you can maximise the resources and supports available

  •  Tally your Supports – consider the types of accommodations, modifications or supports that you have received as a tertiary student to date. Understand why these where put in place, and how they’ve helped you overcome certain obstacles. Also list any other accessible facilities or processes that your university or TAFE provided that you may need in the workplace.  For example accessible toilets, website or captioned videos.  Developing a strong self-awareness of what enables you to access and participate in education, can increase your understanding of what you may need in the workplace.

But don’t worry about having to know all the adjustments you may need upfront before starting in a workplace – workplaces change, technology change and so may your requirements.  Remember the JobAccess service can be there to help you stay in your job as your learn and develop.

  • Explore JobAccess – become familiar with what JobAccess offers.  You can start with this short training webinar, and then spend time on the JobAccess website to check out their great resources on finding or keeping a job, job vacancies and case studies.  Take time to understand the types of modifications and how employers can access these.    Sharing what you know about JobAccess services and the supports you need with your Disability Employment Service Provider (if you are registered with one) or your Tertiary Career Team may help you discover new possibilities for starting your career.   If you are part of a USEP trial location, USEP consultants would be very happy to discuss options for the future with you – learn more about one of the trial sites here.
  • Self-Advocacy – knowing what adjustments have been in place so far through your education and what’s available to meet these through JobAccess means you’ll be in a good place to be able to discuss these with any employment service providers or directly with employers. It’s advisable to consider the potential impact of your disability may have on any jobs you are applying for, and what resources you would have access to that might address these.  While you don’t need to mention these in your application, if you have a disability that your employer will notice in any interview, it can be handy to provide your employer with the JobAccess solutions to the modifications or equipment you’ll need.  This way you can impress them with your initiative, they can be confident about accessing government support to make any necessary changes.

Suggestions for further reading:

A photo of a dog sitting on the floor at the base of an office chair.
Disability aware workplaces:  are assistance animals welcome at work? (external link): Assistance Animals and the Disability Discrimination Act