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I'm thinking of joining the Australian Public Service

I'm a person with disability – does that make a difference?

The diversity of the people in the Australian Public Service is one of its greatest strengths. We are building an environment that values and utilises the contributions that people with different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives make to generating new ideas and ways of doing things.

Workplace diversity in the Australian Public Service means that we recognise the value of individual differences in the workplace. We provide a supportive work environment and flexible work arrangements that encourage all employees to meet their full career potential.

Click on each of the titles to learn more about working in the Australian Public Service.

Your legal rights

The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 states that people with disability should not be treated less fairly in employment and other aspects of life. Under the legislation, disability can mean people with:

  • A physical, mental, psychological or learning disorder

  • A medical condition, either potential, temporary or permanent

Discrimination is also unlawful where it occurs because a person with disability

  • Uses a palliative, therapeutic or assistive device

  • Is accompanied by a carer, interpreter, reader or assistant, or trained assistant animal

The legislation gives you the right to be treated the same as others and to be given the opportunity to participate fully in Australian life, including having adjustments and provisions made to allow you to participate fully. These are called 'reasonable adjustments'.

What are reasonable adjustments?

Reasonable adjustments are changes or alterations made to help you if you have disability, to achieve equal opportunity in applying for a job vacancy and undertaking the role. If a person with disability is the best person for the duties, then the agency must make reasonable workplace changes if the person needs them in order to perform the essential requirements of the duties.

There is funding available to employers to help with the cost of reasonable adjustment through the Employment Assistance Fund. There is also a tool available to help identify the types of adjustments that can be made to assist you to do the inherent requirements of the work and information available on how to negotiate workplace adjustments. Inherent requirements are defined in the section on disclosure.

Examples of reasonable adjustment include:

  • Making changes to tests and interviews so that a person with disability can show their ability to do the job
  • Provide hearing loops for training rooms so that a person who is hearing impaired can attend face to face training
  • Adjustments to work arrangements to accommodate someone who needs breaks because of pain or fatigue
  • Provision of an adjustable height desk for a person using a wheelchair
  • Arranging telephone typewriter (TTY) access for an person who is Deaf or has difficulty speaking
  • Screen reading software for employees who are blind or have low vision
Case Study

An Accessibility Support Unit in the Department of Human Services supports existing employees with disability to effectively operate and utilise portfolio endorsed Assistive Technology products across Human Services portfolio agencies. Nationally endorsed and supported products include the screen readers, screen magnifiers and speech recognition applications.


The Disability Discrimination Act is designed to protect you against direct and indirect discrimination.

What is direct discrimination?

Direct discrimination is where you receive less favourable treatment than a person without disability in similar circumstances.

An example of direct discrimination would be if George had better qualifications and work performance than another applicant but missed out on the job because he has impaired vision and would need adaptive technology.

What is indirect discrimination?

Indirect discrimination is where a policy, practice or requirement is applied equally, but has a discriminatory outcome for someone with disability.

An example of indirect discrimination would be if Maree, who is vision impaired, was excluded from consideration from a reception job which involved occasional delivery of packages, because she didn't hold a driver's license.

Remember, it is Australian Public Service policy that agencies should position themselves as employers of choice for the diverse Australian community and ensure that their recruitment practices give everyone, including people with disability, the opportunity to compete for jobs fairly and without either direct or indirect discrimination.


The term disclosure refers to whether you tell your prospective employer about your disability. This is an individual decision and you are not obliged to disclose, unless it will affect your ability to do the inherent requirements.

What are inherent requirements?

Inherent requirements are the essential activities of the job. It's not discrimination if you are unsuccessful in your application because you can't meet the inherent requirements.

Remember, to you it may be obvious how you would undertake inherent requirements, but prospective employers who don't know you, may be unfamiliar with the various ways that you would undertake these aspects of the work. They also may not be aware of the various assistive devices available or adjustments that could be made to help you. You may need to discuss your needs with your employer or your Disability Employment Service provider.

Examples of inherent requirement might be 'record minutes of meetings', 'extensive travel required' or 'ability to move large equipment'. Non inherent requirements might include 'the ability to write short hand', valid driver's license required' or heavy lifting required'.

Should you disclose?

There are a range of reasons why you might want to disclose your disability to a prospective employer, and reasons you may not want to. Disclosing enables you to access reasonable adjustment for interview, or may demonstrate specific job related strengths.

Review the following websites for further information on the arguments for and against disclosure and when to disclose.


Under the Privacy Act 1998, any information you provide to a prospective or current employer must be treated sensitively. It can't be shared with others without your written consent and you have the right to know why it is being collected, who has access to it, and to amend any records if they are incorrect.

Review the following websites for further information about privacy.

Getting help

There are many resources available to help you to find the perfect job for you, and to support you to win a job.

If you've come from university, you're probably used to having a Disability Support Officer to help. Agencies in the Australian Public Service also have a similar contact, usually called a Diversity Officer, who can provide some help with your integration into your new role.

Job Access also offers help and workplace solutions for people with disability. You can call a Job Access Advisor on 1 800 464 800 or find them online - link below. Some of the services include:

  • Helping you to prepare for work including training in specific job skills
  • Supporting you in your job search to develop your resume, train you in interview skills and how to look for suitable jobs
  • Supporting you when you are initially placed into a job, including on the job training and co-worker and employer supports
  • Ongoing support in a job if required
  • Purchasing vocational training and other employment related assistance
  • Helping with workplace modifications, support services and Auslan interpreting in the workplace.

Special provisions are available under the Public Service Act to assist in the employment of people with intellectual disability. Agencies sometimes advertise particular vacancies as being open only to applicants with intellectual disability.

Disability Employment Service Providers can assist people who because of their disability, may not be able to compete successfully in the job application process.

There are websites that provide more information such as: