Enhancing employment participation of young adults with disabilities is a key Australian policy objectives. However, realising this goal, is much trickier. Research shows the education to employment journey has become more complex, lengthy and diverse in advanced industrial societies. There is also greater emphasis on post-secondary education and creditalism (Brown, 2001; Furlong and Cartmel, 1997). These changes mean many young adults with disabilities will experience difficulties in their transition to work (Cocks and Thoresen, 2013; Hemmeter, Kauff and Wittenburg, 2009). In this presentation, we will discuss our own research findings from young workers and job seekers (18 to 30 years) with neurological and physical disabilities (affected citizens) and personnel from services (front line implementers of policy and program rules). The aim is to illustrate the complexity of barriers that intersect to disrupt the education to work journey for young adults with disabilities. The findings also revealed what is helping young adults to overcome or work around the complex and fragmented pathways to get and keep work. These findings provide important insights into how to move forward in policy and practice to enable young adults with disabilities to have more successful and seamless transitions.

Dr Lisa Stafford

Queensland University of Technology

Dr Lisa Stafford is a Lecturer in the School of Public Health and Social Work at Queensland University of Technology and has a lived experience with disability. She is a social scientist in disability policy, social planning and human geography. She has 17 years of experience in the field of disability and inclusion with specific focus on children and young people. Her research areas are: social-spatial injustice, inclusive communities, participation, and transition to work. She has expertise in qualitative interpretive studies, person-environment interaction studies and participatory research methods that enable all voices, particularly those with complex communication needs, to be heard in research.

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