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Careers Advice

In partnership with Pathways 2 Employability, we've curated a selection of the most helpful articles and resources to you launch an incredible career!

Frequently Asked Questions

We've compiled answers to some of your most commonly asked questions

When should I disclose to a potential employer about my disability?

Every situation is different, and it is very much a personal choice when it comes to sharing information about disability; when to share, who to share with, and how much information to share.

It is up to you to share your diagnosis. Many people choose only to share what adjustments they need, rather than the diagnosis, as this can be more meaningful and practical.

There is no legal obligation for you to disclose a disability, unless it is likely to affect your performance or ability to meet the inherent requirements of the job, or it affects your ability to perform the role safely and ensure the safety of others. When making your decision about disclosure, you should consider the following reasons for and against disclosure. 

Some reasons for sharing information about your disability include: 

  • disclosure generates trust and an open relationship with your employer and allows you to discuss the most effective workplace adjustment strategies 
  • if your disability is visible you can deal with misconceptions and show how working with a disability can be ‘business as usual’ 
  • if there is a crisis related to your disability it may be difficult to implement work related adjustments quickly unless you have disclosed your disability 
  • if your disability impacts on your job, an employer may perceive this as poor work performance 
  • if your disability could reasonably be seen to cause a health and safety risk for other people in the workplace, failing to disclose that risk could be a breach of your obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. 

Some reasons for not sharing information about your disability include: 

  • your disability may have no effect on your ability to do the job and it is therefore not necessary to disclose
  • it may provoke unnecessary curiosity, concern and insensitive questions.

There are a number of resources that may assist you to think through how to share information about your disability such as:

Is it better to disclose before employment than risk being fired?

If you are an employee, you have already been selected as the right candidate for the job. The risk of disclosing should not lead to your being fired as you have already proved that you are the right candidate. Your rights in the workplace are protected by the Disability Discrimination Act. https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/C2016C00763

What steps can I take if an employer isn't giving me what I need, or they decide what is best for me? 

Sometimes your employer may need help understanding your specific requirements. Asking for reasonable adjustments in the workplace will enable you to do your job better. It will also help your employer if you are able to suggest solutions to possible barriers. Every situation is different, and it is very much a personal choice when it comes to sharing information about disability. It is important to know what supports or adjustments you might need (whether in work, study or any other area in life), as this can help guide you in any conversations or discussions you decide to have about your disability. 

Your employer may be discriminating against you if they refuse a request for a reasonable adjustment. JobAccess outlines specific steps you can take if your workplace is not providing reasonable adjustments:

What about adjustments so that I don’t have to look at a screen for extended periods of time due to a severe visual sensitivity?

Employees can request reasonable adjustments to assist them to do their job well. An adjustment is considered ‘reasonable’ if it meets the needs of the employee with disability, without impacting too much on other employees, or causing excessive hardship to the employer (which they would need to be able to prove).

You may also be able to access funding for modifications, specialised equipment or assistive technology. For more information visit: https://www.jobaccess.gov.au/node/77776

What can I do in my current job when I have been receiving negative feedback but I am not confident to talk about my disability or adjustments?

This can be a difficult conversation to have with your employer if you are not feeling confident to do so. Rather than talking about disability, many people choose to share what adjustments they need, rather than the diagnosis, as this can be more meaningful and practical. Have a think about what support or adjustments you might need as it may be helpful if you provide your boss with a list of strategies that can assist you to perform your job. Also, don’t forget about the strengths and contributions you bring to the workplace. When you are talking to your employer about a workplace adjustment, you are not asking them for a favour. You are asking them to provide you with the tools you need to enable you to perform your job and maximise your productivity.

What if I request a reasonable adjustment e.g. 1-to-1 sessions but my manager is not able to accommodate?

An employer is obliged to make an adjustment unless they can prove that the adjustment would cause unjustifiable hardship. Your rights are protected by Disability Discrimination and Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) laws which relate to discrimination and associated topics such as harassment, bullying, vilification and victimisation. Most employers are subject to both Federal and State EEO legislation. Each State and Territory has a separately administered tribunal and court system overseeing these laws. In addition, employees in any State or Territory may utilise the Federal Court and tribunal systems. Federal and State EEO laws dictate that discrimination is not allowed by law. EEO holds employers accountable.

The law generally holds an employer responsible for discrimination or harassment that occurs in the workplace by its employees. This is called vicarious liability. Under law, it is up to employers to show that they took reasonable steps to prevent the discrimination or harassment occurring.

If you require support, Fair Work have a list of step-by-step instructions you could follow: https://www.fairwork.gov.au/employee-entitlements/bullying-and-harassment

I feel discriminated against and have taken steps to address this through Fair Work or the Australian Human Rights Commission. What do I do if I then end up in a really hostile environment because I have gone outside the business to get support to keep my job?

The Fair Work website has a step-by-step list of what to do in this case. Their website has some great resources - take a look: https://www.fairwork.gov.au/employee-entitlements/bullying-and-harassment

Depending on the situation, it may be beneficial to get free and confidential legal advice through the Fair Work Commission’s Workplace Advice Service: https://www.fwc.gov.au/resources/where-get-legal-advice/workplace-advice-service

If I don’t disclose, am I covered by anti-discrimination laws? I.e. if I don't tell my employer and they impose conditions that impede my performance and then I receive a negative performance review and lose my job, can I pursue legal anti-discrimination assistance? 

Sharing information about disability is a deeply personal decision and may be influenced by various factors. There is no legal obligation to disclose your disability unless it is likely to affect your performance or ability to meet the inherent requirements of the job, or it affects your ability to perform the role safely and ensure the safety of others. Where an employee has not disclosed a disability or the adjustments they may need, employers are not responsible for providing employment related adjustments. It is not the responsibility of employers to justify why no employment related adjustments were provided during the period when the employee had not shared information about their disability or adjustment needs.

There is a great article on the Grad Australia website which articulates this well: https://gradaustralia.com.au/disability/disclosure-of-disability-the-pros-and-cons

What about if I feel I have been discriminated against?

You are protected under law. The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) makes it generally unlawful to discriminate against people because of disability. The DDA has three objectives, which in summary are:

  • to eliminate ‘as far as possible’ discrimination on the ground of disability
  • to ensure ‘as far as practicable’ equality before the law for people with disabilities
  • to promote community acceptance of the rights of people with disabilities.

Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) relates to discrimination and associated topics such as harassment, bullying, vilification and victimisation. Most employers are subject to both Federal and State EEO legislation, and need to demonstrate that they have taken all steps practicable to stop vilification or discrimination

For more information go to: https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/C2016C00763

If you feel like your rights under law are being overlooked, the Fair Work website lists step-by-step advice: https://www.fairwork.gov.au/employee-entitlements/bullying-and-harassment

How do organisations address harmful cultures that can lead to burnout? 

Many organisations can have intense periods of work. It is important that organisations seek to mitigate the impacts of this through preventative strategies at both the organisation and personal level. Some organisations may be more proactive at this than others, and they may provide things such as encouraging periods of rest and recovery, flexible working arrangements, and supportive leadership.

A key question to consider is whether an organisation assists employees to proactively look after wellbeing by providing access to support, resources and programs covering areas such as sleep, nutrition, exercise and personal resilience. Some organisations may also have in place a network of mental health first aiders and champions to identify the early warning signs that someone may not be travelling well, thus enabling the workplace to respond quickly and provide tailored programs of support and workplace adjustments.  

Is a person with a disability only able to apply to organisations with an embedded disability component? 

The Australian Human Rights Commission states that a person with a disability has a right to the same employment opportunities as a person without a disability. If a person with a disability can do the main activities or ‘inherent requirements’ of a job, then they should have an equal opportunity to do that job. Employers should also have policies and programs in place to prevent discrimination and harassment in the workplace.

You can apply for any job, however there may be other factors that determine which organisations you want to apply to. For example, do the values of the organisation match your own personal values? Does the organisation demonstrate diversity and inclusion? Has the organisation demonstrated inclusive recruitment practices, or other strategies that demonstrate diversity and inclusion?

Is there a trial period where you can display your skills/evaluate if you want to work for that organisation?

Most employers have a probationary period for new employers, each organisation however would have different probation conditions. During the probationary period would be an opportunity for you to showcase your skills. 

Sometimes an employer might ask a person to do an unpaid trial while they evaluate them for a vacant job. This is used to determine if the person is suitable for the job by getting them to demonstrate their skills, and is sometimes called a work trial.

Unpaid work trials may be unlawful where:

  • it isn't necessary to demonstrate the skills required for the job, or has continued for longer than is actually needed (this will be dependent on the nature and complexity of the work, but could range from an hour to one shift)
  • it involves more than only a demonstration of the person’s skills, where they are directly relevant to a vacant position, or
  • the person is not under direct supervision for the trial.

Any period beyond what is reasonably required to demonstrate the skills required for the job must be paid at the appropriate minimum rate of pay. If an employer wants to further assess a candidate's suitability, they could employ the person as a casual employee and/or for a probationary period and pay them accordingly for all hours worked.

For more information visit: https://www.fairwork.gov.au/pay/unpaid-work/unpaid-trials

Why are Assessment Centres not altered to suit applicants with disabilities?

An Assessment Centre is a multifaceted recruitment process designed to assess a group of candidates across a range of competencies in simulated scenarios. Assessment Centres often combine a range of activities to compare a group of candidates. In the case of a participant with a disability, as well as the general requirement for fairness, there is a duty to provide reasonable adjustments, including in arrangements for assessment, to make sure that the person can fully participate in the Assessment Centre.

Assessment centres can be adjusted for people living with disability via a reasonable adjustment. The adjustment would depend on the disability and how it will assist in removing that as a barrier for the individual to have an equitable recruitment process.

The use of Assessment Centres, psychometric testing and direct testing to assess applicants varies between organisations. Organisations have a legal responsibility to ensure that the Assessment Centre does not unfairly disadvantage applicants with disability, and should ensure their direct testing arrangements, or those conducted by contracted recruitment providers, make the necessary reasonable adjustments required by applicants with disability.

Are there specific disability recruiting agencies?

The Australian Network on Disability is a good starting point for information on internships and mentoring: https://www.and.org.au/

Depending on your location, you may also be able to access the University Specialist Employment Partnership or the GradWISE initiatives. For more information visit:

USEP: https://www.usep.com.au/

GradWISE: https://wiseemployment.com.au/gradwise-evaluation/

Whilst there are Disability Employment Services (DES) also available to job seekers with disability, you may find that their experience in looking for graduate positions is limited. If you are registered with a DES and it isn’t the right fit for you, you may transfer to a new Provider, for any reason, up to five times during their period of service.

You can find DES providers in your area by visiting: https://jobsearch.gov.au/serviceproviders

For graduates with autism you may want to explore the Specialisterne website and sign up for updates for employment opportunities across Australia: https://au.specialisterne.com/contact-australia/

What is the Australian Network on Disability Stepping Into Program and what fields does it cater to?

The Australian Network on Disability Stepping Into program is a paid internship scheme that matches talented university students with disability to roles in leading Australian businesses. If you are unsure about the employment fields that are offered by these internships, we recommend you make contact with the Programs Team at the Australian Network on Disability: applications@and.org.au

You can also visit the AND frequently asked questions page at https://www.and.org.au/pages/stepping-into-faq.html 

When interviewers ask ‘expected salary/wage’, what can I say so I don’t undersell myself?

Some examples of how you could respond to this question are:

  1. “My salary expectations are in line with my experience and qualifications.” Or, “If this is the right job for me, I'm sure we can come to an agreement on salary.” This will show that you are willing to negotiate.
  2. Only give numbers you would be happy with. Only offer a range that gives you the means to support yourself and your family.
  3. Highlight your skills. In your answer, you can subtly emphasize why you are a good fit for the position. You can say something like, “Based on my 10 years of experience in this field, I would expect a salary in the range of $Y to $Z.” Before mentioning any numbers, remind the interviewer why he or she should offer you a salary in the first place.

What about having a disability and working in a hospital environment?

Before making changes, employers must understand the inherent demands of the worker’s role including the physical and health demands with a focus on ‘what needs to be accomplished rather than how’. Reasonable adjustments are tailored to meet the worker’s individual needs and circumstances to enable them to perform to duties of the role. Even within a hospital environment, reasonable adjustments in the workplace is any form of assistance or possible adjustment in a process, practice, procedure or environment to minimise the impact of a worker’s disability, to enable them to effectively and safely perform the inherent requirements of their role.

In Australia, 1 in 5 people have a disability, and 80% of disabilities are hidden. In any workplace, whether in the hospital environment or not, there are likely other staff members with disability and who may have accessed reasonable adjustments. If you are unsure about reasonable adjustments in a hospital environment, you may be interested in Dr Dinesh Palipana’s story. Dr Palipana is an Australian Doctor who is the second person in Australia with quadriplegia to graduate as a doctor in Australia and the first with spinal cord injury.

To find out about Dr Palipana’s story visit: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-02-26/queenslands-quadreplegic-doctor-dinesh-palipana-australian-story/9462752?nw=0

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cK5Rl4aRuEw

Where can I find information about employers with Accessibility Action Plans, or similar?

For information on Accessibility Actions Plans visit: https://www.and.org.au/pages/disability-action-plan-development-and-advice.html 

How do we find a list of businesses that have inclusive cultures?

You could start by visiting The Australian Network on Disability (AND) website. AND is a national, membership based, for-purpose organisation that supports organisations to advance the inclusion of people with disability in all aspects of business. The AND website lists all of the employers that are members. You can consider the organisation’s membership as their declaration that they have invested in improving inclusion and diversity.

You can find the list at: https://www.and.org.au/pages/our-members.html

How can international students with disability find graduate jobs in Australia?

Australia offers several different types of visas for international students which allow you to work while you are studying here. If you are interested in staying in Australia to work after you graduate, you will need to get a new working visa before your student visa expires. As a graduated international student you may be eligible for:

  • The Post-Study Work stream of the Temporary Graduate Visa (subclass 485) if you have completed a Bachelor, Masters or Doctoral degree.
  • To submit an Expression of Interest through the Australian Government's SkillSelect, seeking approval to stay in Australia as a professional worker: https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/visas/working-in-australia/skillselect
  • State and Territory Government nomination for skilled and business migration.

Visit the Department of Home Affairs for more information. https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/ 

If you are looking for an internship opportunity, it may also be possible to apply for an internship. Many internships require applicants to have permanent residency or citizenship. But, some employers will accept applications from students with international working rights. You will be required to provide a current Visa Entitlement Verification Online form when applying for positions. Please check the eligibility criteria for each internship before submitting an application.

As an international student, don’t forget that you can also connect with the Careers Team at your university. 

What are some strategies to navigate IImposter Syndrome? 

Impostor Syndrome refers to an internal experience of believing that you are not as competent as others perceive you to be. While this definition is usually narrowly applied to intelligence and achievement, it has links to perfectionism and the social context.

For further information about Imposter Syndrome, as well as some strategies to assist you visit: https://www.verywellmind.com/imposter-syndrome-and-social-anxiety-disorder-4156469

What is your advice for someone who has autistic traits, but has not received a diagnosis? Hence may find difficulty in finding support programs that require a diagnosis/paperwork?

Some services require medical information about your disability. In a workplace setting however you do not need to provide your employer with documentation about your disability. Sharing information about disability is to let them know about your disability and the support or adjustments that you might need. Rather than talking about your disability, many people choose to share what adjustments they need, rather than the diagnosis, as this can be more meaningful and practical.

Have a think about what support or adjustments you might need. It may be beneficial if you provide your employer with a list of strategies that you find useful which will assist you to perform your job with greater confidence.

Additional links and resources

There are a few video resources that  provide information on the following:

  • benefits of seeking employment in regional areas 
  • how to identify your skills and pursue career interests 
  • strategies for seeking employment 
  • how to write a cover letter and resume 
  • tips to consider in addressing key selection criteria
  • preparing for interviews  

To view the videos visit: http://deakincreate.org.au/resources/ 

Graduate employment