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Inclusive Recruitment - Quick Reference Guide


Inclusive approaches to recruitment remove barriers to employment for potential employees and assist agencies in effectively attracting, engaging and retaining people with disability.

This guide is designed to assist human resources professionals and hiring managers improve the representation of people with disability in the workforce to enable the Australian Public Service (APS) to better reflect the communities it serves. This can be achieved by focussing on the inherent requirements of roles, through effective job analysis and design, and by ensuring that organisational culture supports employees with disability to perform to their best ability.

All recruitment activities should be aligned and consistent with the Australian Public Service Disability Employment Strategy 2020-25, National Disability Strategy 2010-20, Public Service Act (1999), Disability Discrimination Act (1992), and Australian Public Service Commission recruitment guidelines.

Fast fact

  • Results from the 2019 APS Employee Census indicate that 8% of employees report having ongoing disability. This is lower than the Australian representation rate of 13% or working age population

Job analysis and design

Ensure the advertised job description reflects only the inherent requirements of the role and focuses on what must be accomplished, rather than how. Consider the diversity of an organisation, work area and/or team to determine potential gaps.

  • Consider alternative working methods that could reduce workload e.g. part time employment, job sharing, labour hire.
  • Consider how the work can be conducted flexibly, including how tasks can be redistributed within the work area or amongst the team if required.
  • Specify qualifications only where there is a genuine requirement.

Inherent requirements:

Inherent requirements are the core activities, tasks or skills that are essential to a workplace and to a specific job. Inherent requirements are those that cannot be allocated elsewhere, are a major part of the job and result in significant consequences if they are not performed.

Grouping requirements into essential and desirable categories improves the inclusiveness of recruitment activities and reduces the likelihood of indirect discrimination.

Fast fact

Under the Disability Discrimination Act (1992) if a person with disability can perform the inherent requirements of a job, that person should have the same opportunity to do the job as anyone else. Agencies should implement workplace modifications to help candidates meet inherent requirements where reasonably practicable.

Examples of improving the design and inherent requirements of the job description:

Inclusive language

The ability to produce professional standard reports within a set timeframe

Extensive travel required

Ability to communicate effectively with others

Exclusive language

Ability to accurately type 50 words per minute

Own transport and current driver’s license required

Impeccable phone manner


  • Use inclusive language—focus on outcomes, not how it is done. See examples above.
  • Consider applying the disability affirmative measure, otherwise apply RecruitAbility to all vacancies.
  • Ensure your organisation’s diversity statements are included on your recruitment website and/or advertisements. All advertisements are encouraged to have a specific statement about inclusion or welcoming applications from people with diverse backgrounds including people with disability.
  • Make sure all systems and documents are accessible e.g. able to be used with screen reader technology, provided in alternate formats such as Word, PDF and audio files. WCAG 2.0 guidelines provide information on accessibility requirements.
  • Apply and promote flexible work by default—consider changes to hours, patterns and locations of work.
  • Include advice to applicants regarding the stages of the recruitment process and availability of reasonable adjustments throughout all stages.

In addition to typical job notice boards, such as APSjobs and Seek, consider advertising through Disability Employment Services providers and various disability organisations and networks to promote vacancies e.g. the National Disability Recruitment Coordinator.

Example diversity statement: The APS is committed to providing an inclusive and diverse workplace where all our employees are valued. We appreciate the experiences, skills and perspectives of all individuals and harness a collaborative environment. We actively encourage applications from people from diverse backgrounds.

Assessment process

Agencies should identify the job’s essential characteristics, capabilities and required skills prior to advertising. To improve inclusiveness, these should be tested across multiple assessment types in both intrinsic and extrinsic methods.

Fast fact

Understanding intrinsic (doing something because you enjoy it or find it interesting) and extrinsic (doing something for external rewards or to avoid negative consequences) motivators demonstrates applicants’ suitability and attributes in different ways.

Agencies should:

  • Ensure all candidates who have met the minimum requirements of the job and applied through RecruitAbility are shortlisted for the next stage of assessment.
  • Offer flexibility in the assessment process and be prepared to modify assessment methods. It is good practice to consider alternative ways to obtain the required information prior to advertising. Not every candidate needs to be assessed in an identical manner.
  • Adjustments may include extra time for assessment, the provision of assistive technology software and/or equipment, translators and/or different types of assessment. Adjustments should be considered on a case by case basis to assist applicants to perform at their best.
  • Make key pieces of information throughout the recruitment process available in alternate formats e.g. Braille, large print, PDF etc. Encourage applicants to get in touch with the Contact Officer if information is required in alternative formats.
  • Develop a process for the Recruitment Team to respond to requests for adjustments. As a matter of good practice agencies may want to nominate one Contact Officer to ensure familiarity with applicants.
  • Throughout each stage of the assessment process, check whether applicants require any reasonable adjustments that will allow them to perform at their best. Provide applicants with an overview of each step of the assessment so they can advise you of what they require in that situation.

Assessment considerations

Psychometric or aptitude testing can cause a barrier for people with disability and people from diverse backgrounds. Consider alternate forms of testing, or ensure it is accessible and fair for all applicants.

Consider the implications of compulsory health checks. These should only be conducted where necessary and may be used to assist the reasonable adjustment process.

If résumés, CVs or academic transcripts are included in the assessment process, be aware that breaks in previous employment or education may exist as work history and grades can be affected periodically due to disability. Many people acquire disability in early adulthood and this can create gaps in résumés and academic records.

Consider what transferable skills the candidate may have acquired from ‘non-traditional’ work or personal experience rather than only considering ‘work experience’.

Selection panels

Disability confidence and awareness training should be mandatory for all members of selection panels. This will assist panel members in inquiring about any adjustments candidates may need, and ensure panel members can identify and eliminate potential barriers or biases present in the recruitment process.

Fast fact

It is best practice to ensure a diverse range of people make up the selection panel. Consider including a representative from the agency’s diversity team, disability employee network and/or a member of a disability organisation.

Feedback and candidate care

Develop a process for advising candidates whether they are successful or unsuccessful, via their preferred method of communication.

Provide feedback to unsuccessful applicants in a timely and constructive manner. Ensure all feedback is linked to the previously communicated minimum requirements of the role. You may also suggest resources such as ‘Cracking the Code’ that may assist applicants in future recruitment processes.

Creating an inclusive and accessible workplace

Being a disability confident workplace means creating a culture of inclusion and removing barriers for people with disability. Review what disability awareness and confidence training is already available in your agency and ensure all managers are trained accordingly.


Discuss adjustments with new employees as early as possible and ensure relevant information is built into induction programs and available in various formats.

As part of the onboarding process, consider staff safety requirements in an emergency situation. Further information can be found in the APS Inclusive Workplace Emergency Practices Guide.

Promote the use of a reasonable adjustment passport or similar. This should be a primary consideration for any employees undertaking job rotation through multiple work areas.

Fast fact

Reasonable adjustments can be easier than you expect and often involve minimal cost or are cost neutral.

Support available

The National Disability Recruitment Coordinator (NDRC) is funded by the Australian Government as a program of JobAccess. The NDRC is designed to help organisations, including public sector organisations, with more than 100 employees to access the skills and talents of people with disability and provides useful information on the employment of people with disability. JobAccess can provide advice on seeking funding to support your organisation make any required adjustments for employees.

Further information and resources



Related legislation:

Last reviewed: 
9 December 2020