Physical - Managing access to work and the office building

Travel to and from work

Being able to travel to and from work and being on time is essential to keeping a job.

A mobility allowance is available through Centrelink to help with the cost of transport for eligible people, if their disability makes it hard for them to use public transport without help. For more information, visit the Centrelink website.

For more information about accessibility parking permits visit the Department of Social Services website.

Driving for work

There are many changes that make it possible, or easier for people with physical disability to independently drive a vehicle, or be a passenger. These modifications may be as simple as installing a steering knob, through to major structural changes. Automatic transmission is usually needed to reduce the number of driving tasks, and hand controls can only be fitted to automatic transmission.

An Occupational Therapist (with driving assessment qualifications) can do an assessment to work out the driving needs and support that will best help a person with disability. The assessor will look at:

  • visual abilities including perceptual abilities such as judging distance and depth
  • cognitive, or thinking related abilities, such as memory, decision making and planning
  • physical ability to control the car
  • physical ability to get in and out of the car
  • driver's need for adjustments
  • different ways of driving that might be needed.

If a person with disability needs adjustments to their car to help them to do their job, for example a delivery person, a courier or a salesperson, they may be able to apply for funding for these modifications through the Employment Assistance Fund (EAF). Funding is not available for the actual vehicle or for car modifications that only assist people get to and from work. If vehicle modifications are needed, vehicle assessments and car modifications training can be arranged through the EAF.

Car hoists can also be used to provide easy access to vehicles for people who use a wheelchair.

Accessing the building

Employers must ensure that all employees, as well as the general public, have reasonable access to their place of employment. The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 makes it illegal to unfairly treat a person with disability by not giving access to or use of public premises. It is essential for workplaces to provide access to all employees, including entry and exit through external and internal doors.

Access to business premises or a workplace is more than just being able to get in the door. A person must be able to use all the facilities, including general work areas, meeting rooms, bathrooms, and kitchen areas.

Employers must also consider the accessibility of the workplace driveway, location of parking facilities in relation to the building, pathways and building signage.

Workplace adjustments and solutions:

  • accessible paths to the front door or doors – things to look at include clear wide paths, ramps, safety kerbs, handrails and tactile ground surface indicators
  • car parks - consider wider car bays with adequate clearance space above the car and marked with the international symbol for access
  • accessible pathways within the building - consider clear wide pathways, the presence of steps or other barriers, floor surfaces, ramps and rails and tactile or visual indicators
  • doorways - consider adequate circulation space, the ease of door opening such as weight of doors, door handle type and the requirement for visual indicators or colour contrast
  • workspace - the access and use of appropriate equipment, taking into consideration the heights of desk and equipment, visual, tactile or auditory cues required, circulation space and the provision of specialised equipment such as adaptive technology
  • ensuring accessibility to all areas of the workplace including kitchen and bathroom amenities, workspace and other doorways or emergency exits
  • installation of ramps for independent building access
  • automatic door openers to allow independent door access
  • positioning of security pin pads for building access at a height that is accessible from a wheelchair
  • installation of ramps, elevators, stair lifts or chair lifts to assist with access if stairs are present in workplace
  • set up of kitchen amenities for independent access including kettle, microwave, cutlery, plates, cups, fridge, storage and sink access
  • set up of office supplies, equipment and furniture which allows for independent access
  • set up of toilet and bathroom amenities for independent access which may include door access, positioning of the sink, bench, soap, hand towels, mirror along with access to the toilet and installation of rails if required

Support Services

Access auditors and consultants can provide specific disability access advice in your workplace. For more information, visit the Association of Consultants In Access Australia website.

Employers of people with disability may be eligible for free workplace assessments and modifications through the Employment Assistance Fund (EAF). The EAF provides financial help to people with disability to purchase a range of work related modifications and services. Assistance is available for people who are about to start a job or who are currently working, as well as those who require assistance to find and prepare for work.

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