Leading the Change WA

This International Day of People with Disability, Western Australia is ‘Leading the Change’.

What is International Day of People with Disability?

International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD) is a United Nations observed day celebrated throughout the world on 3 December each year. The day aims to increase public awareness, understanding and recognition of people with disability and celebrate their achievements and contributions.


The international theme this year is ‘Transformative solutions for inclusive development: the role of innovation in fuelling an accessible and equitable world’. Western Australia’s theme for 2022 is ‘Leading the Change’.

Leading the Change

Leading the Change is a call to action for increased representation and opportunities for people with disability, particularly in employment. It seeks to encourage individuals, organisations, and the community to promote inclusion and accessibility while supporting people with disability to thrive.

Key statistics

Based on data represented in the State Disability Strategy 2020-2030.

  • More than 4.4 million people in Australia have a disability or 18 per cent of the population, with 411,500 people in Western Australia (1 in 5 people).
  • National unemployment rate for people with disability is more than double that for people without disability with 53 per cent of people with a disability participating in the labour workforce.
  • 34 per cent of people aged 20 and over have completed Year 12 compared with 66 per cent without disability. 
  • 42 per cent of Australians agree that people ignore those with disability.
  • 78 per cent of Australians agree that people are unsure how to act around people with disability.
  • 1 in 3 people with disability have avoided social situations due to their disability.

Increasing representation of people with disability in the workforce

Increasing the number of people with disability employed in the workforce is a key priority in both Australia’s Disability Strategy 2021 – 2031 and A Western Australia for Everyone: State Disability Strategy 2020 – 2030.  

Equal opportunity, a welcoming culture and opportunities for career progression in the workforce are central to ensuring that people with disability have meaningful employment, business and skills to lead a life on their own terms. This might include employers:

  • exploring adjustments during the recruitment processes to make sure candidates with disability are able to fully participate (all you need to do is ask if there are any adjustments required)
  • learning more about workplace adjustments and implementing them where required to enable people with disability to succeed
  • partnering with a disability employment services provider to match people with disability to job roles that suit their skills and interests
  • learning more about being an accessible workplace (making accessibility a core principle).

Benefits of employing people with disability

It has been found that employing more people with disability in the workplace results in:

  • increased workplace cohesion and respect for difference
  • increased innovation
  • access to a broader talent pool
  • a business more reflective of the community
  • increased revenue
  • improved productivity levels.

Disability Employment Services help people with disability find work and keep a job. Through Disability Employment Services, people with disability, an injury or a health condition may be able to receive assistance to prepare for, find and keep a job.

Providers of Disability Employment Services are called DES Providers. DES Providers support people with disability, as well as provide assistance to employers to support employees with disability in the workplace.

Employment in the WA Public Sector

  • Increasing employment of people with disability within the public sector is supported by People with Disability: Action Plan to Improve WA Public Sector Employment Outcomes 2020–2025 (www.wa.gov.au), which sets a target of five per cent representation in the public sector by the end of 2025.
  • This action plan has been developed by the Public Sector Commission as part of a wider workforce diversification strategy, with actions for all public sector agencies. There are interim targets along the way to guide the sector.
  • The plan supports public sector agencies with practical ways they can increase representation of people with disability in employment.
  • It has been developed through consultation and collaboration with key industry and public sector stakeholders, particularly people with disability.

What’s happening for IDPwD in WA?

There will be a number of events occurring throughout Western Australia to celebrate IDPwD organised by individuals, service providers, peak bodies, communities, local and state government:

  • The Department of Communities has created an IDPwD Padlet which allows all organisations and communities to enter events in one central location online to promote and share what events are occurring in the community for IDPwD. Find an event to attend.
  • Illuminate for inclusion – On the night of 3 December, a number of landmarks across the state will be lit up in the IDPwD colours to mark the inaugural ‘illuminate for inclusion’. Venues include Elizabeth Quay, Yagan Square, Crown Perth, Matagarup Bridge, Kings Park and Koombana Footbridge (Bunbury).

Funding to support IDPwD events in the community

The Department of Communities has made $100,000 available for IDPwD activities in 2022.

  • Developmental Disability WA (DDWA) administered the grants, with DDWA receiving 123 applications.
  • 100 applications were successful and awarded to 97 organisations.
  • Forty-five events and activities will take place in regional areas including South Hedland, Bunbury, Kalgoorlie, and Walpole.
  • Visit the grant recipients page for details.

National Disability Services (NDS) is also hosting its annual IDPwD lunch, which is also supported by the Department of Communities.


You are encouraged to show support for IDPwD by downloading and using the developed Western Australian IDPwD promotional tools.

Celebration ideas

There is a range of ways you can celebrate IDPwD and promote further acknowledgement, awareness and understanding of people with disability.

  • Organise an event at your workplace to promote IDPwD.
  • Identify speakers that are prepared to share their lived experience as a person with a disability.
  • Identify people with a disability who have been significant contributors to the community and/or are inspirational members of the community to acknowledge and celebrate.
  • Explore strategies to increase the number of people employed in your organisation.
  • Explore creating a disability access and inclusion plan if your organisation does not have one already.
  • Hold a screening event to share stories that are educational and inspiring. Some suggestions are:
  • The Lives we Lead Work life – aims to influence the community to better understand the contributions that people with disability are making economically, socially, culturally and politically. It features stories of people with disability working in regional and remote WA.
  • Different Lens – provides a fascinating insight into what life is like for 13 Western Australians living with a disability and looks to break down stereotypes and stigmas related to conditions including Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Parkinson’s Disease, acquired brain injuries, intellectual disabilities, spinal cord injuries and autism.
  • You Can’t Ask That – relevant episodes include:
    • Autism Spectrum
    • Deaf
    • Facial Difference
    • Down Syndrome
    • Blind People
    • Wheelchair Users
    • Short Statured.
  • Organising disability awareness training for staff. 

Thank you for your support

Page reviewed 25 November 2022