Participant perspectives on factors influencing access to work and the role of the DES program in improving employment outcomes

Improving DES outcomes requires an understanding of the perspectives of participants on factors that influence their access to work, alongside their expectations of what supports they want from DES.

This presentation highlights findings from the Improving Disability Employment Study (IDES) — a two-wave survey of 197 DES participants on their experiences finding and maintaining work, conducted between 2018 and 2020.

Many IDES survey respondents reported compounding vocational (e.g. lack of qualifications), non-vocational (e.g. inaccessible transport) and structural (e.g. limited availability of jobs) barriers in their access to work — with unemployed respondents reporting greater levels of disadvantage when compared to those that were working.

The IDES findings are indicative of the need for DES policy and programming that better enables individualised approaches for diverse jobseekers.


Dr Alexandra Devine Research Fellow, University Of Melbourne, Australia

Alexandra Devine is a Research Fellow with the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, The University of Melbourne. For the past 16 years her local and international research and technical assistance experience has a focus on mental health, disability and disability inclusive development. Key bodies include as lead researcher on a UNICEF funded situation analysis of children with disability in Cambodia which utilised participatory research techniques to include the voices of children with disability; lead researcher on study evaluating exploring sport for inclusive development programs in the Pacific; Co-investigator for an Australian Development Research Award aimed at improving access to quality Sexual and Reproductive Health for women with disability in the Philippines; and, Co-investigator on an Australian Government funded study to develop the Rapid Assessment of Disability – a toolkit to measure the effectiveness of development activities which target or include people with disabilities. Upon completion of her PhD on the life circumstances of people with psychosocial disability and their engagement with Australian Disability Employment Services (DES), Alexandra has continued to focus on disability, health and employment inequalities, alongside examining experiences of individuals engaged with systems such as Australia’s National Disability Insurance Scheme. Alexandra continues to provide technical assistance to an Australian Government funded Skills for Development Program in Kiribati.

Stefanie Dimov Project Manager, The University of Melbourne, Australia

Stefanie Dimov works on employment related research with the Disability and Health Unit at the University of Melbourne. She works closely with employment service providers, youth with lived experience and disability advocates in the field.

Stefanie has a multi-disciplinary background in psychology and public health. Her recent work aims to provide evidence that will inform policy and service delivery within the youth and disability sector.