People living with a disability or long-term medical condition
Looking for work is challenging for everyone.
It can also be harder for people with a medical condition who encounter barriers from employer attitudes, the work environment, and the physical environment.
RMIT offers support to students with a disability to help them obtain and maintain employment.
The legal definition of disability stated in the Disability Discrimination Act (1992) is complex, but simply put:
A disability may be visible or hidden, may be permanent or temporary and may have a minimal or substantial impact on a person’s abilities. The term disability also refers to people who have a medical condition, such as mental illness, diabetes, epilepsy or HIV AIDS. The majority of disabilities are invisible.
(Western Sydney National Disability Coordination Officer Program, 2009)
If you can identify how your medical condition might impact your ability to carry out a particular job, you and your employer can figure out the best way to negotiate your working environment and conditions.
To find the right career, everyone needs to identify and understand their skills, interests, values and personality. If you have a disability, you may also need to identify any barriers that might be posed by the work environment and job requirements. Depending on the nature of the medical condition, these barriers could range from working with people to negotiating stairs.
The way you address these issues, and if you’d like to involve your employer, will depend on whether you choose to disclose your medical condition.
Disclosing a medical condition to an employer can be a difficult decision, particularly if your medical condition is not visible. If your medical condition is obvious to others, it will probably be a question of ‘when’ to disclose rather than ‘if’ to disclose. If you decide to disclose a disability, it’s important to think about the timing, what you will disclose and how you will disclose.
If you’d like to know more about disclosing a disability or medical condition, read Choosing your path - disclosure: It's a personal decision and How to disclose disability to an employer through Jobaccess.
Knowing your rights and responsibilities is particularly important in relation to discrimination. Legally, direct discrimination is only applicable if an individual has disclosed their medical condition.
There are, however, instances of indirect discrimination, which is possible if an individual has not disclosed their disability. The Disability Discrimination Act (1992) protects people with a disability from discriminatory treatment in employment, particularly in recruitment processes and conditions of employment.
Reasonable adjustments are changes to a job to enable you to work effectively and carry out the inherent requirements of the job.
When you assess whether your medical condition may have an impact on a particular job, you’ll need to consider the degree of impact, and how best to determine the type of reasonable adjustments needed.
The Jobaccess workplace adjustment tool is a useful interactive resource that can help you get ideas about modifications to a job or workplace.
Reasonable adjustments may be needed through the entire recruitment process, right through to the end of employment. You might need extra time in recruitment tests, flexible work hours or different office furniture.
It’s important for your employer to understand that reasonable adjustments won’t prevent you from carrying out the inherent requirements of your job.
- Australian Employers' Network on Disability
- Broaden Your Horizons
- Choosing Your Path – Disclosure: It's A Personal Decision
- Disability Employment Services
- Job Service Australia
- My Career, My APS
- WISE Employment
- Job requirements and possible solutions
- Get ready for study and work
- Spinal Cord Injury Network of Professionals
- Wage Subsidy Scheme
- Toozly (Australia's largest job search website for people with disabilities)
- Public Transport Victoria (Access Travel Pass)
- City of Melbourne (Parking for people with disabilities)
National Disability Insurance Scheme
Information on what supports the NDIS will fund in relation to employment and how to determine whether a support is funded by the NDIS or the employment system.
NDIS - Mainstream interface: employment (PDF, 2p)