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What is the affirmative measure for people with disability?

The affirmative measure allows a particular job in the Australian Public Service (APS) to be open only to persons who have a disability, or a particular type of disability.

The measure is designed to address the under-representation of people with disability in APS agencies.

Use of this measure is consistent with the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and our human rights obligations, including those set out in international conventions.

The aims of the disability employment affirmative measure are to:

  • promote the right to equality and non-discrimination in employment for people with disability
  • acknowledge that all individuals have the right to employment and that some groups need additional support to achieve this right
  • increase the number of people with disability employed in the APS
  • assist agencies to meet the objectives of the Australian Public Service Disability Employment Strategy 2020-25.

The affirmative measure is set out in legislation.1 It incorporates the former provisions relating to jobs for people with intellectual disability and for people with disability likely to be unable to compete on merit.

What jobs may be covered by the affirmative measure?

The measure can be applied to any ongoing (permanent), non-ongoing (temporary) or casual APS vacancy, regardless of the duties, including those at Senior Executive Service levels. It is not restricted to jobs with a disability-related function.

It may be applied to individual vacancies or bulk rounds, such as graduate recruitment rounds.

It can also be applied to recruit candidates who are participants with a disability employment service, and who have been assessed as being likely to be unable to compete successfully on merit due to their disability.

Definition of disability

For the purposes of the  affirmative measure, 'disability' is defined by the Australian Bureau of  Statistics in its Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers.2 

Types of disability

Where a vacancy is restricted to persons with a particular type of disability, this would generally be because there is a connection between the skills or experience a person with a particular type of disability may have and the requirements of the job—e.g. a person with vision impairment is recruited to test software accessibility. However, where the requirements of the job allow, it may also be appropriate in some circumstances to restrict vacancies to a particular group of people with disability that experience disproportionate levels of employment disadvantage, e.g. people with intellectual disability.

Applying for jobs advertised under the affirmative measure

If  an agency has decided to apply the disability employment affirmative measure to  a vacancy, it will be clearly indicated in the job advertisement.

You can search for vacancies that have been advertised under the disability employment affirmative measure on the APSjobs website. Go to the APSjobs website, on the left of the screen under ‘Refine Search’ scroll down to ‘Programs and Initiatives’, in this menu select ‘Disability Employment – Affirmative Measure Vacancy’. This will display vacancies that have this initiative applied.

APSjobs website shows the programs and initiatives drop down selection

A vacancy advertised under the affirmative measure will include the following notification:

Affirmative measure vacancy–disability employment
The filling of this vacancy is intended to constitute an affirmative measure under Section 27 of the Australian Public Service Commissioner's Directions 2016. This vacancy is open only to people with disability.

The affirmative measure may also be applied to vacancies where candidates are sourced through an agency's non-ongoing (temporary) employment register.

To apply for a job, you should follow the vacancy information provided by the agency and apply accordingly, as with any other APS job application.

As well as the information available on the APSjobs website, there will usually be additional information available on the agency's website, such as an applicant information pack. There will be a nominated contact officer and it is a good idea to get in touch with them if you have any questions about the job or the recruitment process.

Prepare your application using the guidance provided in the advertisement and applicant information pack. General guidance on how to increase your chances of winning a job can be found on the Australian Public Service Commission's Applying for jobs in the APS webpage. The Australian Government's JobAccess program has some very helpful information on their Finding or changing jobs webpage.

Evidence of disability

To demonstrate eligibility for employment under this affirmative measure, applicants are required to provide evidence that they are a person with disability. Evidence of disability does not need to include information about the type of disability, unless the vacancy itself has been restricted to persons with a particular type of disability.

Depending on policies in place in the agency with the vacancy, applicants may not be required to provide evidence of disability unless they are shortlisted for further consideration, e.g. selected for interview. This means that you will not be required to provide evidence unnecessarily.

Suitable evidence of a disability would be a certificate or letter from a registered medical practitioner.

The following documents would also be acceptable:

  • letter from a Disability Employment Services or jobactive provider
  • letter from a secondary or tertiary institution disability services unit in relation to a recent student.

See Attachment A for a template that may be helpful if you need to obtain one of the above documents.

If the above documents are not available, agencies may consider accepting a statutory declaration. You will need to contact the agency with the vacancy to find out what is regarded as acceptable evidence.


There is ordinarily no obligation for an employee to share information about disability with an employer unless it affects the employee's ability to do the tasks that must be carried out to get the job done. However, for the purpose of this affirmative measure, applicants will be required to disclose that they have a disability in order to demonstrate that they meet the eligibility requirements.

Information collected about disability is regarded as 'sensitive information' for the purposes of the Privacy Act 1988 and your consent is required for information to be collected or shared.

Accessibility and adjustments

Agencies are required to provide reasonable adjustments or flexibilities in the recruitment process to applicants with disability. This could include things such as provision of an Auslan interpreter for an applicant who is hearing impaired, extra reading time during assessment activities for a person with learning difficulties, or accessible software for a person with vision impairment.

The applicant information pack should clearly state that reasonable adjustments are available upon request, and include details of a contact person who can assist you, normally the nominated contact officer for the job.

Any online application and assessment processes should be fully accessible. If you have any difficulty or require alternative formats, get in touch with the contact officer.

Inform the contact officer of any reasonable adjustments you require during the application process, and ensure that you let them know in advance about any adjustments you need if you are shortlisted for further assessment (such as video interview, panel interview or assessment centre).

Reasonable adjustments can also be made available to assist you in the job, if you are successful in gaining employment in an APS agency. See Workplace adjustments to support employee performance for more information.

Further information

  • Applicants are encouraged to get in touch with the contact officer listed in the job advertisement.
  • JobAccess Advisers may be able to assist with information about getting a public service job or accessing other services, including the Employment Assistance Fund which can provide reasonable adjustments for job seekers and employees. Phone the Advisers on 1800 464 800 or see Free support to find or keep a job and Employment Assistance Fund Guidelines.
  • The RecruitAbility scheme is also available to improve the job prospects of people with disability. See RecruitAbility scheme: A guide for applicants.

Useful webpages

Australian Public Service Commission


Attachment A: Template: Evidence of eligibility for disability employment affirmative measure

Attachment A template (MS Word Document).

Name of person certifying eligibility:

Organisation/business name:

I am:

  • a registered medical practitioner, registration number:
  • employed in the disability services unit of a University/TAFE/school
  • other, please describe:

I hereby certify that, according to records held in this office, NAME meets the definition of disability4 applicable to the Australian Public Service Affirmative Measure – Disability Employment.



1. Section 27 of the Australian Public Service Commissioner's Directions 2016

2. Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings (cat. no. 4430.0).

3. http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/4430.0Appendix202015

4. Disability definition

Persons are considered to have a disability if they have a current limitation, restriction or impairment which has lasted, or is likely to last, for at least six months and restricts everyday activities and episodic conditions if they are likely to recur. This includes:

Disability groups

  • loss of sight (not corrected by glasses or contact lenses)
  • loss of hearing where communication is restricted, or an aid to assist with, or substitute for, hearing is used
  • speech difficulties.
  • difficulty learning or understanding things.
  • shortness of breath or breathing difficulties that restrict everyday activities
  • blackouts, seizures or loss of consciousness
  • chronic or recurrent pain or discomfort that restricts everyday activities
  • incomplete use of arms or fingers
  • difficulty gripping or holding things
  • incomplete use of feet or legs
  • restriction in physical activities or in doing physical work
  • disfigurement or deformity.
  • nervous or emotional condition that restricts everyday activities
  • mental illness or condition requiring help or supervision
  • memory problems or periods of confusion that restrict everyday activities
  • social or behavioural difficulties that restrict everyday activities.
Head injury, stroke or acquired brain injury
  • head injury, stroke or other acquired brain injury, with long-term effects that restrict everyday activities.
  • receiving treatment or medication for any other long-term conditions or ailments and still restricted in everyday activities
  • any other long-term conditions resulting in a restriction in everyday activities.
Last reviewed: 
8 December 2020