Did you know that almost 4 million Australians have a disability and represent almost 17% of the working population? Based on these figures, approximately 43 employees at the National Museum of Australia are likely to have a disability, yet only 2% have formally disclosed a disability.
The Museum promotes a diverse and inclusive workplace culture and provides support for all employees. Without formal disclosure of a disability, however, the Museum is limited in how it can offer appropriate, timely and relevant support to employees in the workplace to enable them to do their jobs. Disclosure is the first step towards support and assistance in the workplace.
Disclosing a disability – factors to consider
Ultimately, the decision to disclose a disability is up to each individual. Before making such a decision, staff should consider the following factors.
There is no legal need to disclose any disability you may have, unless:
- it will affect your performance or ability to do the inherent conditions of a position; or
- it affects your ability to work safely and/or ensure the safety of colleagues around you.
What are the benefits of disclosure?
There are a number of benefits to disclosing any disability.
- It is the first step to creating a trusting and open relationship, allowing you and the Museum to develop the most effective workplace adjustments for you.
- You can challenge misconceptions, showing that your work will be business as usual.
- If your disability does affect your work, misconceptions of poor performance will be removed and reasonable adjustments, including the purchase of equipment where needed, can be made to assist you.
- If there is a change in your disability the Museum can respond quickly and effectively to keep you at work and enable you to work effectively.
- You comply with Workplace Health and Safety legislation should your disability be reasonably seen as creating a health and safety risk.
Why would you choose not to disclose a disability you may have?
- Your disability has no impact at all on the inherent conditions of the position.
- Disclosing may create unnecessary curiosity, concern or insensitivity.
What is a disability?
There are many different types of disability, including levels of vision, hearing, speech and intellectual impairments, mental illnesses, reduced use of limbs, and learning difficulties.
The federal Disability Discrimination Act 1992 defines a person as having a disability when there is:
a) total or partial loss of the person’s bodily or mental functions; or
b) total or partial loss of a part of the body; or
c) the presence in the body of organisms causing disease or illness; or
d) the presence in the body of organisms capable of causing disease or illness; or
e) the malfunction, malformation or disfigurement of a part of the person’s body; or
f) a disorder or malfunction that results in the person learning differently from a person without the disorder or malfunction; or
g) a disorder, illness or disease that affects a person’s thought processes, perception of reality, emotions or judgment or that results in disturbed behaviour;
and includes a disability that:
h) presently exists; or
i) previously existed but no longer exists; or
j) may exist in the future (including because of a genetic predisposition to that disability); or
k) is imputed to a person.
When should you disclose a disability?
You can disclose a disability before an interview, at an interview, after you are offered a position or after you start work with the Museum. There are distinct benefits at each point.
Disclosure before or at an interview:
- creates open discussion about the inherent role of the position, expectations and opportunities, and allows the Museum to provide access and support at the interview
- removes surprises and awkwardness at the interview
- enables you to demonstrate skills, abilities and ways of managing any effects your disability may have on your role.
Disclosure when offered a position or after starting:
- gives you better access to information on the Museum's workplace adjustment, support and equity strategies and schemes
- enables easier and faster implementation of workplace adjustments, and helps you to start with all the assistance/equipment that you may need
- promotes increased understanding and response from the Museum and colleagues.
What information should you disclose?
If you decide to disclose any disability you may have, think about the information you will provide. You only need to provide information about:
- adjustments you may need for a fair and equitable selection process
- how a disability may affect aspects of the inherent conditions of your role
- adjustments needed for you to complete the inherent conditions of your role.
To whom do you disclose?
Before an interview, disclosing to the Recruitment Officer will ensure that any necessary adjustments are made to assist with the interview, including:
- briefing the panel;
- providing an interview room that is accessible for wheelchairs and has an interview table with an appropriate height;
- if you have a visual impairment, meeting you at the front door and taking you to the interview room;
- if you have a hearing impairment, providing the questions in writing to assist you; or
- considering other options that would assist.
Once employed at the Museum, disclosing to your supervisor or business unit manager will ensure that they discuss with you the reasonable adjustments that are required to enable you to complete the inherent tasks of the position and that you have appropriate training and development opportunities.
The Human Relations Advisor or Operations Manager are responsible for coordinating workplace assessments, job access assistance and equipment purchases, or reviewing tasks and providing advice on reasonable adjustments.
Staff at the Museum are required to comply with the Privacy Act 1988 and the Information Privacy Principles in respect of the collection, storage, use and sharing of personal information. Any disability disclosure will be handled in accordance with the legislation and principles.