Disability in APS: bullying, distrust, bad ICT spark concern

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Public servants with disabilities are more likely to be bullied, less likely to enjoy their job and feel supported by their boss or colleagues, but less likely to leave by choice. The APSC is investigating.

Something is rotten in the APS — at least for those with disabilities. The latest service-wide employee survey results from the Australian Public Service Commission show a worrying state of affairs for staff with a disability and it intends to find out what is behind the latest findings. Commonwealth ICT procurement regulations are also being challenged for failing to consider systems compatible with screen readers and other accessible technology.

Public servants with disability are twice as likely to be bullied or harassed in the last 12 months compared to the rest of the Commonwealth workforce. The warning bell of how different the public sector employment experience is for people with disabilities is found in their consistently lower satisfaction with the work they do, their immediate supervisor, remuneration, their work group, and the senior leadership in their agency. People with disabilities are also more likely to be forced out of the APS for reasons other than their choosing.

Commissioner Stephen Sedgwick has ordered an investigation into the troubling findings that will continue under his successor in 2015.

No other diversity group had such a negative collective experience. Indeed, indigenous public servants reported higher satisfaction in their supervisors and agencies than did the rest of the workforce.

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