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Exclusive: Disability Representation in the NDIA's Highest Ranks

DSC’s Freedom of Information (FOI) request reveals the number of people identifying as disabled in NDIA senior leadership roles.

By Chris Coombes

Updated 15 Apr 202430 Aug 2022

How are the NDIA and the sector performing when it comes to employing disabled leaders?

According to an exclusive FOI request obtained by DSC, only 5.7% of NDIA Senior Executive Services positions are held by people who identify as disabled. This equates to 4 out of 71 senior positions.

Yet the NDIA’s Corporate Plan 2021-25 reveals that it aims to employ disabled people in 11% of its senior executive positions.

The lower-paid levels of the NDIA have higher rates of disabled people than its senior positions. On 31st May 2022, the NDIA had 911 Executive Level positions, which in public service language means middle management positions. Of these, 77 (8.5%) identified as having a disability. Of all the NDIA’s 5,075 employees, 526 (10.4%) identified as having a disability. The figures in this FOI request did not include labour hire positions.

However, the 10.4% figure supplied in the FOI request is much lower than what is included in the NDIA’s annual report, which says, “Most recently in 2020-21, 17% of employees have a disability” (149).

We asked the NDIA ‘why the difference?’. An NDIA spokesperson said:

“The data in the 2020-2021 Annual Report was based on 2020 Census results for APS employees identifying as having disability. The May 2022 FOI request reported on data from the Agency’s own HR/payroll system as at 31 May 2022.

The Annual Report reports on APS Census results, which are traditionally higher than Agency data due to the timing of the request for information, the option for anonymity and a communications and engagement campaign surrounding the APS Census deployment.

The Agency is looking forward to receiving the 2022 APS Census results later this year”.

In short: a) sometimes workers don’t tell the NDIA that they are disabled and b) time has passed since the NDIA published those figures and they are expecting the more recent data to be better.

NDIA Diversity Award

 According to the Australian Network on Disability, the NDIA employed more people with disability than any other government Agency. The NDIA won first place in the 2020-21 Access and Inclusion Index, against 28 participating organisations, which included private organisations and not-for-profits.

How the rest of Australia stacks up:

 The rest of us also have much work to do, given:

  • Only 53.4% of working-aged peop    le with disability participate in the labour force compared to 84.1% of people without disability (ABS data 2021).
  • YouGov revealed that around 50% of the 501 Australian managers and human resource professionals they surveyed said that their organisation has never hired a person with a disability. Around 8% of those surveyed said they would never consider hiring a disabled person!
  • According to the Australian Human Rights Commission, less than 20% of ASX top 50 companies have a Disability Action Plan.

The FOI data shows that a significant problem exists, though it doesn’t explain why. Graeme Inns recently spoke to DSC’s Evie and Roland Naufal about why the sector and the NDIA are not hiring enough disabled leaders and what can be done about it – check it out on this Disability Done Different


Chris Coombes

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