This report presents research findings from the Employment Research Project aimed at exploring the barriers and enablers to gaining and maintaining paid employment for NDIS participants with intellectual disability, on the autism spectrum, and/or with psychosocial disability.

This research included:

  • In-depth interviews with 85 NDIS participants (families, carers or informal or formal supporters) aged 14 to 44 years;
  • Focus groups and interviews with 37 NDIS service delivery staff (NDIS planners or delegates, Local Area Coordinators (LACs), Partners in the Community (PiTC) and Subject Matter Experts (SMEs); and
  • Responses from 142 NDIS service delivery staff to an online survey. 

Interviews and focus groups were conducted via video online, telephone, or email.

Key insights
A lack of inclusive employment options was identified by participants as the greatest barrier to finding a job. This included the lack of flexibility or inclusivity of workplace environments and the stigma of psychosocial disability and autism spectrum.

Participants also identified issues with the support they received from the NDIS, such as a feeling of not being well understood by service delivery staff and the lack of clarity around the funding and supports available. This was supplemented by the complexity of the system.
Further barriers included:

  • Lack of discourse about careers and focus of short term employment goals;
  • Lack of post-school training and education options and clarity about what supports and services are available to support these; and
  • Participants lack of self-confidence.

Person-centred employment planning was identified as a key enabler to supporting participants to achieve their career aspirations, as was starting employment and planning conversations early (e.g. while in school), and participant’s own networks, informal supports and role models.
Six key areas of influence and opportunities for action emerged from the data:

  1. Person-centred planning and supports
  2. Participant empowerment and engagement
  3. Informal and own networks
  4. School level and early intervention initiatives
  5. Formal education and training post school
  6. Inclusive, flexible and adaptive workplaces


Publication Details
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