PHN Article: Discussing disclosure for patients with disability

 In Disability Awareness

NDCO – Building partnerships to help people with disability transition into further education and employment

For patients who have a disability and are anxious to move into further education and subsequent employment, the issue of whether to disclose the details of their disability to an employer or educational organisation may be one of the hardest decisions they ever make.

The decision about whether to disclose a disability is a deeply personal one. For some people, it may well feel as if they are placing everything on the line and opening themselves up to rejection if they disclose their disability.

As part of their health care team, there are ways you can help guide and advise your patients who have a disability through this decision-making and, possible disclosure process.

While disclosure may well make an individual feel vulnerable, there are many cases where it allows people with disability to access a range of supports and assist them through the journey of further education and subsequent employment. In other words, disclosure can be a very good thing.

All Australian educational institutions are required to adhere to the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) Education Standards which addresses both the rights of students with disability to access education and the obligations faced by educational organisations to facilitate this.

It aims to ensure students with disability are able to participate in educational programs on an equal basis to students who do not have disability.

Most Australian Universities and TAFEs, now have Disability Support Units which provide practical advice and support for students with disability.

These units are able to assist with:

  • Learning resources in various formats
  • Access to technology and software which facilitates education
  • Connect student with disability with note takers
  • Liaise with teaching staff where required
  • Assist with examination accommodations
  • Connect students with internal and external supports

It is helpful if students understand that when they do disclose the details of a disability, they remain in control of who is told about the disability and all communication regarding this remains confidential.

A website which has proven useful for people with disability considering the ramifications of disclosing is Disclosure: It’s A Personal Decision. The website provides substantial information about options and pathways for students with disability and looks at when may be the best time to disclose a disability.

To help facilitate a smooth transition to further education and subsequent employment for Australians with a disability, the Australian Government has developed the National Disability Coordination Program (NDCO).

The NDCO has been developed to assist working-age adults with disability to successfully transition into establish partnerships with stakeholders in the community.

Critical to this is an understanding by General Practitioners about what resources are available to support patients who have a disability to access education and employment.

Your local NDCOs are: Southern Queensland – Debbie, debbier@stepsgroup.com.au or 5458 3063; Central Queensland – Julie, Julie.irwin@communitysolutions.org.au or 4932 8010; North Queensland – David, davids@stepsgroup.com.au or 0488 794 483.

If you would like more information about resources available for adult students with a disability, please feel free to reach out to Debbie or Julie.

ABOUT NDCO: The NDCO program is an initiative of the Australian Government to assist working-age adults (15-64) with disability to successfully transition into further education and subsequent employment by developing partnerships with stakeholders in the local community.

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