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Employment Relations, Mental Health

A quarter of young Australians estimated to have a chronic mental health condition, impacting participation in the workforce (1)

atWork Australia 2 mins read

With the Australian population ageing, chronic disease is on the rise. Living with chronic conditions can have a substantial impact on an individual’s health, affect their quality of life and can impact their participation in the workforce.2

In 2022, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) reported that chronic conditions are an ongoing cause of considerable burden and disability in Australia. It estimated that almost half (47%) of Australians had at least one common chronic condition and a quarter (25%) of people aged 15–44 had chronic mental and behavioural conditions.

For many people, their condition and resulting treatment may prompt them to reconsider next steps in their career. Moreover, changes in physical capability, mental capability, or the length of time away from work, may make returning to a previous role more difficult.3

As someone who lives with a chronic health condition and successfully returned to the workforce, Morningside resident, Matthew, knows firsthand how difficult it can be.  

Matthew, now aged 20 years old, is one of the 11.6 million Australians who live with a chronic health condition, living with multiple mental health conditions, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder.  

Managing the symptoms of these conditions for much of his life, Matthew was advised to get in touch with atWork Australia after his recent diagnosis, where he was connected with a Job Coach for support.  

“My Job Coach has been really understanding of my health conditions. He has made me feel supported throughout the whole process. He treats me like a human being and understands that I can struggle with brain function and memory loss. He really makes an effort to work with me to make employment feel manageable,” Matthew said.

Through support and mentorship, Matthew began to build the confidence he needed to take the next steps to secure employment. Working collaboratively with Matthew, his Job Coach helped him to identify his key skills, what relevant experience he had, and what his main interests were.

Matthew is now job ready and working with his Job Coach to find work that fits his skills, experiences, and interests.

atWork Australia believes that work is for everyone, recognising the importance of working alongside employers to connect them with eager and job-ready candidates like Matthew.

To find out more about atWork Australia’s support services, please visit:



About atWork Australia

atWork Australia has been delivering employment services on behalf of the Australian Government since 2003. From more than 330 locations around the nation, atWork Australia delivers Disability Employment Services (DES), Workforce Australia and ParentsNext, connecting people and business so both can thrive.

Partnering with more than 3,500 employers across the country, atWork Australia placed 18,400 Australians into meaningful and sustainable employment in 2022, across a diverse range of industries and occupations.



  1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2023). Chronic conditions and multimorbidity. Retrieved from
  2. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2009). Chronic disease and participation in work. Canberra: AIHW. 
  3. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2010) Risk factors and participation in work, AIHW, Australian Government, accessed 20 September 2023. 

Contact details:

Tia Orfanidis, SenateSHJ, +61 411 293 583 /


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