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16 May 2022

The ABC’s 7:30 program has recently reported on claims that the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) has discriminated against people with disability due in part to a lack of digital accessibility within the workplace. The ABC spoke to “more than a dozen current and former NDIA staff who say they have faced disability discrimination while working at the agency.” The article also states that at least 6 people have sued the agency for discrimination within the last 5 years.

Issues outlined included that the agency “failed to provide them with the assistive technology and physical adjustments to their workspaces to enable them to do their jobs properly,” along with other “basic accessibility failures, including photocopiers and even toilet rolls in office toilets installed out of reach of staff using wheelchairs.”

The training was also identified as a key issue. Some workers described being unable to use screen reader programs like JAWS (Job Access With Speech) with internal systems, making the experience of workers with disability difficult as they were unable to complete jobs. One worker described being the only person with a disability in a training room with a PowerPoint presentation displaying information that she couldn’t access.  These complaints have been brought to the attention of the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) who said that it “regularly receives requests for help from NDIA staff experiencing disability discrimination.”

An investigation was launched by the Commonwealth public service workplace safety regulator, Comcare; in January this year told the CPSU that “the NDIA had contravened federal workplace health and safety legislation.”  As the NDIA is in charge of important programs like the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and highlights its role in employing people with disability, with 19% of its workforce identifying as having a disability, it makes it all the more important that accessibility within its work is effectively supported.

The NDIA “rejected claims it had a widespread problem with disability discrimination.” in its statement for the ABC.

More information can be found in the 7:30 article.