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What is disability?

A disability is any continuing condition that restricts a person’s everyday activities. This can involve a person’s mobility, sensory or mental functions. There are many different kinds of disability which can result from accidents, illness or genetic disorders.

A disability is any continuing condition that restricts a person’s everyday activities. This can involve a person’s mobility, sensory or mental functions. There are many different kinds, which can result from accidents, illness or genetic disorders.

Some people are born with this, while others will acquire this at some stage in their life. No two people with the same challenged experience it in the same way.

Did you know?

There is a strong relationship between age and disability. As people grow older, there is a greater tendency to develop conditions which cause disability, such as arthritis, hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, or peripheral vascular disease.


Not all are visible or obvious. While you can see a person using a wheelchair or walking frame, many people have less ‘visible’ disabilities including mental health or neurological conditions.

Most people have a physical disability (83.9%), while 11.3% have mental and behavioural and 4.8% have an intellectual or developmental .

The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) identifies and defines the following categories:

Physical – affects a person’s mobility or dexterity.

Intellectual – affects a person’s abilities to learn.

Psychiatric – affects a person’s thinking processes.

Sensory – affects a person’s ability to hear or see.

Neurological – results in the loss of some bodily or mental functions.

Who are people with it?

Disability is an everyday part of human diversity and forms only a part of someone’s identity. While some people strongly identify with this, others may see it as just another part of what makes them unique.

A person with disability may require some form of adjustment to help them do certain things in the same way as people without it. This is the only thing differentiating someone with this and someone without this.

Having this problem does not mean someone can’t achieve what they want to. People with disability have the same rights as everyone else. To make decisions for their own lives and to be active members of society.

Did you know?

Over 4 million people in Australia have some form of this problem. That’s 1 in 5 people.
18.6% of females and 18.0% of males in Australia have this.
The likelihood of living with disability increases with age. 2 in 5 people with disability are 65 years or older.

Interacting with someone with disability

Everyone has a different level of experience interacting with people with disability. While some people have grown up with a family member or friend with disability, others don’t have much experience at all.

If you’re unsure about what to do, just ask. The most important thing to do is remember that people are not their disability. However much or little someone identifies with their disability is up to them. All you need to do is ask, listen and learn.

Speak directly to the person. Do not speak through a companion or a service provider.

Ask before helping. Always ask and wait until someone accepts your offer of help. Listen to their instructions or ask for suggestions.

Be aware of personal space. Some people who use a mobility aid, like a wheelchair or cane, see these aids as part of their personal space. Don’t lean on, move or touch them. This is also important for safety reasons.

Don’t make assumptions. Don’t assume you know what someone wants, how they feel and how they navigate their disability. If you have a question about what to do, ask them. That person is your best resource.

Employing someone with disability

Disability is often invisible. For some people, disability may be episodic, while for others, it may be stable. Disabilities range from severe to extremely minor, and people with disability of many different forms are already effectively contributing to the Australian workforce.

Employing an individual with disability is very rewarding for both the employer and the employee.

Although there may be additional equipment or modifications required at your place of business to accommodate their needs, there is also a lot of support available to help you. It is important to be prepared for your new employee by contacting the relevant agencies up front, to ensure you do not miss out on the benefits you are entitled to.

Need help?

AimBig have a high performing team of allied health professionals, each with a strong focus on empowering job seekers and connecting them with the right employers.

Contact us on 1300 034 997 to find out how we can help you.

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