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Education and employment

Level of education affects a person’s ability to find a job and be financially independent.

People living with disability are more likely to leave school at a younger age and to have a lower level of educational attainment than people without disability (AIHW 2019, 2020b).

In 2018–19, among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples:

  • 49% of people living with disability (116,500 people) had an educational attainment of Year 12 or higher.
  • 26% (or 61,200 people) had an educational attainment below Year 10 (Figure DB 15).
People who are either already working or who are both looking for work and available to work are participating in the labour force. People who are not participating in the labour force include those who have retired or are voluntarily economically inactive, attending an educational institution, working a voluntary job and/or performing home duties or caring for children (ABS 2018b).

Many people living with disability participate in the workforce, but can find it difficult to find and keep a job. This is reflected in lower rates of labour force participation and employment, and higher rates of unemployment among people living with disability than among people without disability (AIHW 2019, 2020b).

In 2018–19, 52% (112,900) of Indigenous Australians aged 15–64 living with disability were participating in the labour force. For those living with profound/severe core activity limitations, this proportion was 35% (or 14,200 people) (Figure DB 16).


Among Indigenous Australians participating in the labour force (working or looking for work), 75% of those living with disability (85,100 people) were employed.

People living with disability can also encounter difficulties with employment due to the nature of their condition. In 2018–19, among Indigenous Australians aged 15–64 with profound or severe core activity limitation:

  • 40% (16,100 people) were permanently unable to work due to their condition.
  • 38% (15,100 people) found that their condition affected the type of job they could do.
  • 35% (14,000 people) had difficulty finding work that was suitable for their condition (Figure DB 17).