The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities recognises the full participation of people with disabilities in the workforce as a human right. However, young Australians with disabilities are far more likely to be excluded from the workforce than those without disabilities. Reasons for this exclusion likely relate to individual circumstances, workplace factors, and a lack of services and policy; however, these explanations and the links between them have not yet been verified by longitudinal research. Most past research on the employment of young people with disabilities looks at the short-term social and economic consequences of programs or policies and ignores longer-term health outcomes. This is problematic as employment is a critical determinant of future health and wellbeing. Working with our partner organisations, we will:
- Identify the range of policies and programs available to help young people with disabilities obtain meaningful employment.
- Investigate predictors of meaningful, sustainable employment among young people with disabilities.
- Establish evidence for the specific aspects of employment for young people with disabilities that lead to health benefits. These health benefits include more positive health behaviours, lower health service use and an improved quality of life.
- Identify the cost-effectiveness of current disability employment support policies and service delivery initiatives by examining how well they achieve positive employment outcomes and promote the health of young people with disabilities.
Answering these questions is critical to attracting and retaining young people with disabilities in the workforce. Helping these young people transition into the workforce will increase their chances of gaining lifetime employment, lead to better health outcomes and reduce their reliance on welfare, health and social services.