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Disability, Employment Relations

Higher proportion of Australians live with a chronic health condition, impacting employment opportunities

atWork Australia 2 mins read

For the rising number of Australians living with a chronic health condition1, finding secure and meaningful employment opportunities can be challenging. During Social Inclusion Week (18-27 November), atWork Australia is shining a light on the importance of creating diverse, inclusive workplaces so people of all ages are given the opportunity to thrive.

The aim of Social Inclusion Week is to spread awareness to help Australians feel included and valued, giving everyone the opportunity to participate fully in society2.

In 2023, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) reported that almost half of Australians (47%) were estimated to have one or more chronic health conditions3. Each year, atWork Australia works with tens of thousands of clients who are living with a health condition, and facing barriers to find work, gain access to the workforce.

Ashley, aged 33 from Pinjarra, WA, lives with a physical long-term back injury as well as an anxiety disorder. The AIHW reports that 16% of Australians living with a chronic illness experience back problems4. Ashley experienced atWork Australia’s support firsthand when he needed to upskill and manage his pain in order to re-enter the workforce. Ashley is one of 411,500 residents (16%) in Western Australia living with a disability5.

Ashley’s condition makes his employment journey look a little different to most. By getting to know Ashley’s goals, employment history and what his ideal workplace would look like (considering his chronic illness), atWork Australia supported Ashley to work through the skills needed for the workplace. Through resume and cover letter support, job hunting, various training courses (e.g. White Card course) and everything in between, Ashley was able to secure his ideal job that best suited his needs.

To progress his career journey, atWork Australia were able to financially assist Ashley and support him with the emotional toll that comes with the restriction of everyday activities due to his disability. Some of these include regular check-up calls with Ashley, various hands-on courses to enhance his skills, counselling services and support for his social anxiety.

“The fact that I can call the local team about anything, without being worried about being judged, gives me a strong sense of comfort. I truly think job providers are not given enough recognition for the important work they do,” said Ashley.

atWork Australia provides tailored services to support a person in a way that encourages them to thrive. After all, the right person in the right job means lasting employment and transformed lives and businesses.

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 Government, The Treasury (2023). Prevalence of chronic conditions. Retrieved from
  2. Social Inclusion Week Australia (2023). Home. Retrieved from
  3. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2023). Chronic Conditions and multimorbidity. Retrieved from
  4. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2023). Chronic Conditions and multimorbidity. Retrieved from
  5. Access and Inclusion Plan 2021-2016 (2023). City of Mandurah. Retrieved from

Contact details:

Tia Orfanidis, SenateSHJ, +61 411 293 583 /


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