Disability discrimination persists in the public service

By David Donaldson

October 12, 2016

Almost one quarter of Victorian public servants with a disability have experienced discrimination at work, according to workplace survey data released by the Victorian Public Sector Commission.

While 22% of respondents with a disability in the People Matter survey reported that they had experienced discrimination at work, only 8% of people without disability said they had.

The survey received 62,354 responses from staff in 177 public sector organisations — 35% of Victoria’s public servants — between May and July. Employees with a disability comprise 3.3% of respondents.

Employees with a disability were less likely to agree there is a positive culture in their organisation for people with a disability (52% vs 61%) and more likely to disagree (16% vs 5%).

On the question of whether disability is a barrier to success in their workplace, 22% believed it was, compared to 6% of those without disability.

Public servants with a disability are more likely to see disability as a barrier to success at work.
Public servants with a disability are more likely to see disability as a barrier to success at work.

The soon-to-be finalised Victorian state disability plan 2017-2020 will set out shared goals to better support Victorians with a disability in all aspects of their lives.

The first tranche of People Matter results, released earlier this month, showed Aboriginal employees were somewhat less satisfied with their workplaces than other public servants.

Same-sex attracted employees

Queer people were more likely to report having been sexually harassed at work (20% vs 11%). This gap was more noticeable than that between women and men (12% vs 10%).

Same-sex attracted public servants provided similar results to their heterosexual counterparts in most regards, however.

Same-sex attracted staff were as likely to agree that there is a culture of inclusion for LGBTI people in their organisation as heterosexual respondents, and slightly more likely to disagree (8% vs 2%).

Queer public servants were more likely to report having experienced sexual harassment at work.
Queer public servants were more likely to report having experienced sexual harassment at work.

Only 12% of same sex attracted employees reported that they had experienced discrimination at work, compared to 8% of heterosexuals.

These results are more positive than the those in the more comprehensive annual Australian Workplace Equality Index report, which found the public sector was trailing the private sector on LGBTI inclusion and bullying.

Men and women

Encouragingly, flexible working appears to have gained widespread acceptance. Two thirds of employees agreed their organisation had a positive culture for employees who use flexible work practices (67% of women, and 66% of men).

Caring is also widely accepted. Women were slightly more likely to agree that there is a positive culture in their organisation for employees with caring responsibilities (75% vs 72%).

Responses from men and women were also largely the same on questions about inclusiveness. 62% of women responded that they agreed that their workplace fostered an environment of inclusiveness, compared to 61% of men.

About the author
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
The Mandarin Premium

Insights & analysis that matter to you

Subscribe for only $5 a week

 

Get Premium Today