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Circular 2006/6: Use of special measures to fill employment opportunities for people with intellectual disability

The 2006 State of the Service Report shows a continuing decline in the proportion of APS employees who identify as having a disability. As noted in the report, this is partly the result of a number of policy and operational decisions, but the outcome is that the public service is less able to draw upon a diverse and representative workforce. In addition, the Management Advisory Committee Report “Employment of People with Disability in the APS” encourages agencies to increase their employment of people with disability including those with intellectual disability.

2. This circular outlines the measures that can be used by agencies in recruitment exercises to increase the representation of people with disability in the APS.

Special Measures provisions

3. Special Measures provisions are available to assist individuals from a recognisable group to achieve employment outcomes. They enable non-SES employment opportunities to be advertised as restricted to applicants who have an intellectual disability. The use of this provision is only available for people with an intellectual disability and cannot be used to target more broadly potential employees with disability.

4. APS Agencies are generally expected to advertise employment opportunities in the Gazette as open to all eligible members of the community, consistent with the APS Values of merit and reasonable opportunity to apply. However, under clauses 4.2(6)(b)(ii) and 4.3(3)(b)(ii) of the Public Service Commissioner’s Directions 1999, it is not unlawful for agency heads to put in place special measures to identify particular opportunities as open only to applicants with an intellectual disability.

5. It is important for agency heads to consider and record their justification for using the Special Measures provisions. Key factors justifying their legality include the inequitable employment outcomes experienced by this group of people and the fact that this situation is not improving. It is also good practice for agencies to be explicit about the legal basis for the decision to restrict selection to applicants with an intellectual disability. This could be done by noting in the advertisement and on selection documents that ‘the filling of this employment opportunity is intended to constitute a special measure under Clause 4.2 (or 4.3) of the Public Service Commissioner’s Directions 1999.

Other recruitment options

6. While the Special Measures do not apply to other types of disability agencies can design their recruitment campaigns to encourage people with disability to apply. When considering their workforce planning and diversity needs, agencies are encouraged to consider using targeted recruitment activities to attract applicants with a disability.

  • Agencies may need to re-examine the selection criteria for particular vacancies to ensure that they reflect the inherent requirements of the job and to help selection panels to choose the right person for the job. It is critical that selection criteria address the skills, knowledge and attributes required to perform the duties of the position.
  • Agencies may also consider using targeted recruitment campaigns, either individually or as a consortium to attract and recruit applicants for particular types of jobs or for participation on particular development programmes. These might include graduate or cadet recruitment exercises, or targeted campaigns for particular skill sets such as accountants or executive assistants.
  • Agencies are also reminded that the National Disability Recruitment Coordinator and Disability Employment Networks can assist agencies to improve their recruitment outcomes for people with disability.

Further information

7. Further information on the matters raised in this circular is available from the APS Commission’s Employment Policy Advice page. It may be appropriate for more complex or sensitive queries to be dealt with in writing.

Clare Page

Group Manager

Better Practice Group

18 December 2006

Last reviewed: 
29 March 2018