FAQ's on employment and study

What are some alternative pathways to employment?

There are many alternatives for those who are struggling to find work, or are concerned about their capacity to fulfil the responsibilities and demands that come with full time or part time employment.

Volunteering can be a source of enjoyment; it helps utilise and further enhance skills, builds confidence and develops an individual’s personal and professional contacts. Volunteering can help prepare you for paid work and be used to evaluate whether part time or full time work is viable.

Attending TAFE or University is another alternative to working. A university or TAFE degree will enhance employability, expand your social network, develop new skills, and assist you in finding your career pathway.

Universities and TAFEs have Disability Liaison Offices (DLO) that aim to promote inclusion and access for all students as they navigate university life. A DLO can provide students with information and services and practical advice around things such as campus access and parking.

‘’Exercising a lot of self-discipline in terms of maintaining my health allows me to do my job, and to maintain myself at work”.

How do I deal with practical daily concerns once I gain employment?

Individuals with a SCI may have a variety of support needs in the workplace in order to be employed or to reach their work goals. This can include personal care issues such as bladder and bowel maintenance, pressure sores, pain and fatigue, as well as suitable transport and modified work environments.

After acquiring a spinal cord injury in high school, and with over 10 years’ experience in the workforce, Paul has learnt that maintaining and constantly improving upon how he deals with issues of general health have been paramount to the success of his professional life. 

How could an Occupational Therapist/Vocational Consultant or Careers Counsellor help me?

Everyone’s life experience is unique, which is why personalised support can be key. Whether transitioning back to work after a SCI, wanting to explore new career opportunities or rediscovering your passions, a vocational provider can be a great place to start.

Vocational providers can help individuals with a SCI successfully transition back to the workplace by discussing common barriers such as bladder and bowel maintenance, pain management as well as funding options, workplace and task modifications and equipment prescriptions.

Vocational providers can help people identify their career interests and skills, acquire the relevant education or training, and find and apply for jobs. They may even be able to assist with ‘trial’ on the job work situations with potential employers for a specified period of time to see if you are able, and enjoy the job. The end result of working with a vocational provider is discovering your passions, deciding on a career or pathway and the steps that need to be taken to get there.

Careers Counsellors assist clients to manage their career, make work, education and life enhancing decisions and plan career transitions using a wide variety of techniques, including career coaching, counselling and the administration and interpretation of a range of assessments.

Tina Papadakos is a Careers Counsellor & Psychologist (BSc (Honours), Cert IV TAE, MAPS, CDAA). To work with Tina contact: [email protected]


Occupational Therapists and Vocational Consultants work with people and communities to enhance their ability to engage in the occupations they want to, need to, or are expected to do, or by modifying the occupation or the environment to better support their occupational engagement.

In seeking guidance, Paul learnt a lot about himself - what and how he enjoyed things - "it has given me a lot of clarity and confidence”.

What happens to my Disability Support Pension if I gain employment?

Those who receive the Disability Support Pension (DSP) can still receive benefits after obtaining employment. The Australian Department of Social Services states that all DSP recipients can work up to 30 hours a week before their payments are affected. If you work over 30 hours, your DSP can be suspended, rather than cancelled. You are able to resume your DSP within two years without having to claim again.

This allows people to participate in employment programs, build their individual skill set and pursue a fulfilling career without worrying about financial support. It also allows flexibility of working hours to both employers and employees.


Do I have to disclose my disability to an employer?

You do not have to disclose your disability to an employer, even if a pre-employment form asks for information about a disability. However, if you are asked by a potential employer to disclose in writing any illnesses or injuries that might affect your ability to perform the responsibilities of a job, and you choose not to, there is a possibility that you will miss out on workers compensation should your condition deteriorate.

If the job requires a pre-employment medical test, it is not required that you disclose your disability unless it directly relates to the requirements of the job. According to the Human Rights Commission, these pre-employment medical tests must be given to all potential employees, not just those that have a disability.

What are the employer’s legal responsibilities?

The Disability Discrimination Act (1992) prohibits discrimination and harassment in the workplace. Employees are protected at all stages of employment including application, workplace terms and conditions and dismissal.

Under the Equal Opportunities Act (2010) employers have a responsibility to make reasonable adjustments for employees with a disability, to ensure job requirements can be performed.

Employers are responsible to provide:

  • Reasonable adjustments to enable workplace access
  • Equipment modification and aids
  • Building modifications, such as ramps
  • Transportation for work related events

Click here for Maurice Blackburn Lawyers Employment FAQ for people with SCI.

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