Disability Confidence Survey Report 2016

The Australian Network on Disability (AND)’s 2nd annual Disability Confidence Survey report indicates a small but positive shift in the attitude of small and medium sized enterprises (SME)’s to customers and employees with disability.

You can access the 2016 Disability Confidence Survey Report as an accessible PDF or accessible Word document.

Want to assess your organisation's disability confidence? Complete the Access and Inclusion Index Quick Self-Assessment to find out how you rate.

Key findings

(Explanatory text below)

Key findings - explanatory text below

Customers with disability

  • 7.2/10: Rating of importance of customers with disability to the organisation (+0.9 on the 2015 rating of 6.3)
  • 61% are likely to make changes in the next year to make it easier for customers with disability to do business with them.
  • 82% believe they have some customers with disability (+2% on 2015) and 75% of these organisations have done something specific to assist customers with disability in the last 12 months.
  • Good practice guidance required: 58% believe they have not received a request from a customer with a disability and 24% don’t know or are unsure what specific action should be taken. This shows that more work is required to challenge this passive approach and educate business of the benefit of designing for dignity.

Employees with disability

  • 89% of organisations who employ people with disability identify positive benefits including: Improved morale (61%), filling a skills gap (49%), productivity (42%), customer loyalty (34%)
  • 55% of respondents are aware that their organisation employs a colleague with a disability.
  • Additional leadership required: 21% of people were unsure or didn’t know what their organisation’s attitude was to hiring people with disability. This was more prevalent for staff and middle management, which indicates the message may not be getting through from senior managers.
  • 6.8/10 Job applicants with disability are seen to be increasingly relevant to organisations surveyed. Respondents rate the importance of job applicants with disability 6.8 out of 10 (and increase from 6.0 in 2015). This increase occurred across company sizes and at all levels within organisations.

A more active approach needed

The results are encouraging, however revelations from the Human Rights Commission (HRC) indicates that the highest level of complaints they receive are about disability discrimination; and their Willing to Work enquiry, tells us there has been no improvement in the employment participation rate for people with disability over the past 20 years.

Alarmingly, the survey reveals a passive approach to welcoming people with disability. While 82% believe they have some customers with disability, 42% have not taken action because they have not received any request to do so; and a further 24% don’t know what action can be taken. It is something that is reflected in real life experience of people living with disability.

In contrast, the experience of 55% of businesses that are aware that they have employees with disability is overwhelmingly positive. Almost 90% identify positive benefits from improved staff morale to increased customer loyalty.

Responses from people living with disability

We asked four people with lived experience of disability to provide their thoughts on the report.

  • Alastair McEwin,Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Human Rights Commission.
  • Maryanne Diamond, General Manager, Media, Communications and Engagement at the National Disability Insurance Agency.
  • Amanda Lawrie-Jones, MetroAccess Project Officer, Access and Inclusion, City of Port Phillip.
  • Rania Saab, family law solicitor with Legal Aid NSW.

Read what they had to say in Responses to Disability Confidence Survey findings.


How does your organisation's disability confidence rate? Complete the Access and Inclusion Index Quick Self-Assessment to find out.

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