Debunking Myths About Disability Employment Support

9th August, 2023

In our efforts to foster a more inclusive and diverse workforce, it is crucial to challenge common misconceptions about employing individuals with disabilities.

Barkuma, a specialist Disability Employment Service in South Australia, is at the forefront of creating opportunities for people with developmental disabilities.

We spoke with Danielle, who oversees Disability Employment Services at Barkuma. Our goal was to clarify common misconceptions and demonstrate the value that people with disabilities bring as workers.

“We are a specialist provider that focuses on people with developmental disabilities, such as intellectual and learning disabilities, and Autism Spectrum Disorder. Our expertise lies in this specific cohort, which is the least represented in the workforce. By concentrating on this group, we can better address their unique needs and create tailored employment opportunities.

Myth #1: People with disabilities are not capable of holding a job.

Danielle: “We take a person-centred approach and thoroughly get to know the individuals we work with before trying to place them in a job. We give them opportunities for work experience and exposure activities to assess their compatibility with specific roles. This way, we ensure they have the capacity to fulfil the job requirements. Work experience at a potential workplace allows us to showcase the individual’s abilities to the employer and gives the person a chance to see if the job fits their wishes and skill sets.”


Myth #2: Individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities lack the necessary skills for the workforce.

“We have concrete evidence of our success in South Australia, where we currently facilitate employment for nearly 400 people across both private and public sectors. Our free support system covers the whole journey, starting from getting things going all the way to making sure everyone is performing at their best.

We come up with custom business solutions, connecting the right people with the right roles, helping out with job planning and setup, giving a thorough welcome and orientation, and keeping the help flowing through our team of dedicated contacts, support staff and on-the-job training. We’re all about keeping the communication lines open and sharing information regularly. With the right support in the right role, our clients are not just holding their own, they’re thriving.”



Myth #3: Hiring someone with a disability requires major accommodations.

Danielle: “Hiring someone with disability is not much different from hiring anyone else. We encourage flexibility and adjustments as needed, but we also work within the employer’s regular recruitment processes. We encourage meet and greets and break down the formality to make the process comfortable for everyone involved. If any workplace adjustments are required, we can access government funding to help with the process.


Myth #4: Employing someone with disability can be expensive for employers and employees.

Danielle: “Our support services are completely free of charge to employers and participants. Employing someone with disability does not have to be expensive. In fact, statistics show that individuals with disabilities have lower workplace accident rates and less sick leave, making them valuable and cost-effective employees. Employers also benefit from increased workplace morale and diversity.”


Myth #5: Individuals with disabilities might not be as productive as others.

Danielle: “There may be cases where some tasks are completed at a different pace due to disabilities. Overall, productivity levels vary for all employees, and it’s essential to focus on finding the right fit for the individual and the job.”

“We work with employers to showcase the relevant skills and attributes of our participants and negotiate adjustments if needed. The on-site support we provide to the employee and employer ensures that both parties feel comfortable and capable. We offer natural support and role modelling to help employers understand how to communicate and work with individuals with disabilities effectively”

Myth #6: There are no long-term career prospects for people with disabilities.

Danielle: “Barkuma’s focus is to find someone who is going to be a good fit for the workplace. Our aim is to keep them in the role, being a productive and valuable staff member for as long as it works for both the employee and the employer.”

“We just had a client retire after 33 years in the same job. Our clients have reached multiple milestones, ranging from five to ten years or more. It’s not unusual for someone to really stick at a job. But on the flip side of that, we are also really focused on career development, if that’s something that the employer or the employee wants. Career development is essential to keeping satisfaction in your work life.”

Barkuma is proud to be leading change towards more collaborative, connected and inclusive communities for all South Australians, and we believe every person can contribute toward that vision. We support employers and businesses hiring people with disability. We foster long-term relationships, working with both employers and employees to solve unique business challenges.

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