Access and inclusion is the current approach to the way we think and talk about disability. This new way promotes and enables greater inclusion by focusing on the environmental and attitudinal barriers that are in place and looking at ways to remove them – creating access and inclusion.

Previously, disability was described in a medical model and under this model; disability was considered an individual responsibility. Therefore disability was a result of impairment to body functions or health and medical deficiencies, and this resulted in a focus on what a person could not do, or could not be because of their disability.

The social model of disability promotes the concept that disability is caused by the way society is organised, and not by a person’s impairment or difference.

Society’s barriers can be physical, social, or attitudinal in nature, or they can be embedded in policies, programs, transport, or communications.

Our definition

The Victorian public sector recognises the definition of disability as:

Persons with disabilities include those who have long-term (lasting 6 months or more) physical, mental health, intellectual, neurological or sensory impairments which in interaction with various attitudinal and environmental barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.

This definition is based on descriptions recognised by the United Nations and Australian government.

The Victorian Government also acknowledges and values the social model of disability.

Social model adoption

Getting to work is underpinned by this shared understanding of the social model of disability – and the necessity to remove barriers to employment. This is consistent with the values we hold as a sector. We respect the human rights of people with disability.

Sharing disability information

In line with the social model of disability, the Victorian public sector is committed to providing inclusive and respectful workplaces free from discrimination. To ensure we create that environment, we have reframed how we talk about ‘disability disclosure’. We encourage people with disability to share their disability information, and feel safe to provide us with meaningful information on experiences and barriers for our continuous improvement.

Currently, the Victorian public sector monitors disability information using the People Matter Survey (PMS). This is confidential and de-identified, and focuses on the overall workplace experiences of people with disability. The PMS captures rich data about engagement, job satisfaction and other characteristics of the work environment as well as workplace adjustments. As part of our commitment to increasing access and inclusion, we will use this tool to measure our progress towards achieving positive workplace experiences for people with disability.

Disability Confidence

Disability confidence is about creating safe, inclusive and respectful workplaces free from discrimination. It is the way we increase our knowledge of workplace barriers and how we can go about removing them to increase access and inclusion.

It is important to understand disability confidence and the role you play to deliver key messages in your organisation.The Australian Network on Disability (AND) have multiple resources to assist you in building disability confidence.

The accepted way in which we think and talk about disability includes the social model of disability which focuses on access and inclusion.