“Changes outlined in the DES General Deed Variation 4 took effect from 1 July 2012. This means that from 1 July 2012 DES Employment Outcomes can no longer be claimed where employment is contrived, not ongoing or not in open employment”. – DEEWR circular October 2012
But for the period of the contract just passed this was most certainly not the case – in fact these practices informed the ‘Star Ratings’ and, to the very best of my knowledge, while clearly DEEWR acknowledge the fact that DES has been riddled with deceit, no attempt has been made to remove the impact of flagrant abuse on the outcome of the purchasing bid.
Stuff that’s happened in this contract:
1. DES providers have worked to abuse the system by making placements into other related entities – this is the ‘not in open employment’ bit - frequently these placements have been made into ‘social enterprises’ (there have always been ‘related entity rules but they have been easily sorted to avoid DEEWR’s half-hearted attempts to prevent misuse).
Works like this: DES provider either gets roughly $7,500 or $15,000 during a 26 week outcome, depending upon the perceived level of disability/barriers – it’s a bit more but my math is poor – this amount covers registration and outcomes fees from placement through to 6 months working.
Each job seeker has a set benchmark for the number of hours they must work in order for the service to claim an outcome – that benchmark is automatically 8hrs for anyone on the Disability Support Pension.
Here’s a subsidy sum: 8hrs X $20 X 26wks = $4160
So, at least $3340 net to the service provider.
Then of course there is the value of that persons labour and output to their employer
2. The real misuse and abuse of the past/present process occurs when DSP recipients have work offered that is of very small hours – 8 will earn the provider a ‘result’- and that work is either completely or heavily subsidised. At 26 weeks (important for unfair dismissal and also as a milestone in the Disability Employment Service program) employment is terminated
3. Education is a directly linked to employment prospects and wages earned. Quite rightly, the funding body (DEEWR) made a provision for educational outcomes to count towards programs ‘Star Ratings’ the recognition system that purports to inform job seekers how good the program they are considering is.
How could you possibly cheat with this measure?
Works like this: DES provider attends local High School and spends time with a candidate who is registered, receives ‘counselling’ and offered suggestions for adjustments in the way in which they study.
They are then returned to their classroom.
Notch up an ‘educational outcome’.
To DEEWR’s credit this rort was ended on the 12th of October 2012. Nevertheless, such behaviour fed directly into ‘Star Rating’ results.
4. Job Splitting. For the funding body (and I suspect their political masters) ‘a job is a job is a job’ In other words, full employment and escape from welfare dependency is good, but so is an 8 hour a week job.
There is no doubt that for some persons 8 hours a week would a capacity contribution – such a person might lack the health or physical capacity to do more. These individuals are in a very small minority.
When I challenged the then Minister for disability Employment (2005) on the suggested model for what are now DES programs, suggesting it would encourage service providers to job split in order to maximise financial returns (the Government were about to open up business to ‘for profit’ programs), and achieve higher ‘Star’ ratings, I was told, ‘I think we can rely on the integrity of service providers’!
Well Australia and people with disability can’t, and both should never should have been made to – it’s a simple fact that the casualization of our work force has been spurred on by policy decision that reward providers for part time participation.
5. Creaming. The Disability Services Act was written (I believe) to support the folk with the highest level of disability to achieve the highest level of participation. Modern interpretation is that it was designed to help the highest number of people achieve participation.
If numerical results are good for profit, they are also good for statistics – ‘’500 people participated’ beats out ‘250 people escaped welfare’. The emphasis on numerical results with little real interest on the level of disability experienced by those people entering the program has seen a strong move toward service for people with lower barriers to entering employment.
The ‘Star Ratings’ are supposed to adjust for level of disability but the simple truth is that they do not, never have and actually never could do better than an ‘average’ result.
The pressure for numerical outcomes (remember job splitting is rife) pushes programs toward those with the least impairment resulting in those with higher levels of disability going to the back of the queue (especially so in for profit operations).
These are the practices that informed the Star Ratings and upon which business has been handed out for 2013- 2018.
The purpose of the Disability Services Act (1986) was to assist the most disadvantaged Australian to fully participate in the life defining experience of employment. Results were judged by the degree of participation achieved by each person – Hours worked X dollars earned X length of tenure was the measure of ‘success’.
The ultimate goal of each person’s program was to empower the person with a disability to achieve the greatest possible level of independence they could reach and preferably an end to government benefits.
Australian Disability Services thrived and were recognised internationally as first class.
That’s no longer the case. In fact, Australia has slipped to ‘motherless last’ in international measures of participation and employment for our most disadvantaged citizens.
It didn’t have to be this way and it doesn’t need to remain so.
The solution does not lie with government imposed quotas for business not legislatively imposed direction to employ a diverse workforce. The answer lies in beliefs and either ensuring that only ‘true believers’, organisations with a demonstrated interest in social justice and inclusion get a contract or (and I prefer this option) linking funding to reduction in welfare dependency.
If that happened you could forget tenders, bids and associated rubbish (and that’s all they are) and having licenced employment services, allow these to operate in a market designed to reward meaningful results.
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Your Comments John from Parramatta wrote on 29 Oct 2012 12:40:02 PM I was given an 8 hour job and pretty much forced to take it - then, after I had been there for a short time I found out all my wages were being paid by ***** (removed-editor). The other workers all knew and they made me feel worthless. After 6 months my job was apparently no longer needed but I found out another person replaced me almost straight away.
Not so bad! Taken from: Today's Guardian at 4.09pm Tuesday 7th November 2017:
In a world full of discouragement there’s always a space for good news....
The NDIS mantra is 'choice and control'
To be valuable, choice needs to be informed.
Average Sydney Disability Employment Services placement rates are 34....
It's voting time at "Focusonability" - with a record number of films entered, a tremendous effort by more than 100 High Schools and 19 countries competing in the International section it was always going to be a hard job to pick a winner....
Choice & Control
The NDIS slogans around choice and control demonstrate the importance of consumer involvement in both the choice and control of supports they need.
However, in order to be valuable, choice needs to be informed by accurate data such is this: http://www....
Last week (14-16) it was my privilege to attend the 1st World Supported Employment Conference in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
"Employment for All - A Global Perspective" brought workers from around the globe (primarily Europe) to discuss best practice in supported employment....
Quality and the Stars Quality and the Stars
There have probably been few people more openly critical of the Disability Employment Service (DES) Star Ratings than me.
The Stars, ranging from 1 to 5 are supposed to give some insight into whether a service is a poor or high performing program....
Attended the Disability Employment Australia (DEA) forum in Canberra. THis is a regular get together that offers disability employment services tha chance to be kept up to date from our funding body and also listed to expert speakers on topics associated with the goal of seeing as many people as possible find and keep suitable employment....
NOVAs greatest asset is its staff. I suspect you would struggle to find the CEO of any organisation state their staff are not vital and at the core of business reputation and results....
A corner turned?
We are presently holding events to promote employment for people with disability - nor surprise there, that's our job.
What has been a surprise is the willingness of employers to come along and listen and more importantly, to consider adopting inclusive employment practices across their organisations....
Say No to Quotas!
The pernicious idea that 'quota's' might be the solution for disability employment continue:
Faced with the daunting task of improving the number of employment outcomes with out sacrificing the quality of service delivered to people with disability how have we fared (sort of Year in Review II)?
The number of placements made has seriously improved - up 31% in 2015 and a further 14% in 2016, NOVA operates at at rate of placement better than 150% over 2014!
Whats really exciting is that this has been achieved without compromising on the level of disability that can be supported by NOVA's teams (if anything this has risen)....
Famous last words!
O.K. - sorry that you need to cut and paste: http://www.smh.com.au/business/workplace-relations/100-million-payday-for-1anhour-staff-with-disabilities-20161216-gtcius....
Not sure if this will be my last blog post for 2016 but just in case, a quick look back at 2016:
Best ever year for total number of placements
Best ever year for long term employment outcomes
Best ever year for Apprenticeships and Traineeships
Best ever year for Transition to Work outcomes
Best ever year for media coverage
Best ever year for 'Focusonability'
Best ever year for Transition to Work (TTW)
How about 2017?
Looking good, so stay in touch and have a terrific holiday, be safe and hopefully Santa will bring you all that you wish for....
Choice is only of value when it's informed (written about this here previously)
I have the numbers for disability employment services (DES-ESS) up till 30th June this year and I am delighted to see that NOVA is responsible for almost 25% of all employment lasting 6 months or more (28 providers) and almost as many as next 2 providers combined....
The NDIS held out hope and promise to people with a disability, the opportunity to exercise choice and control and was heralded as the answer to the prayers of our most disadvantaged and vulnerable citizens....
Latest 'Stars' The effectiveness of Australian Disability Employment Services is recognised through a system called the 'Star Ratings'.
6 years ago NOVA was amongst the lower performing providers in Sydney, at least as measured through the Star's,
Regular readers will be aware of my unhappiness with things that I think are important to people with disability - stuff like, wages earned, hours worked etc....
Best Show on TV Morning All
Sorry you need to cut and paste: http://www.sbs.com.au/ondemand/video/802326595536/focus-on-ability-film-festival-2016
Best show on TV - bar none and, if you want to skip my bit I get off at 3:10 and you can get straight to some of the truly terrific films from this year's "Focusonability" short film festival....
Reform There is a review of Disability Employment Services and presently consideration is being given to what might best replace the current program.
NOVA needs you - come and join us
NOVA needs You!!
Wednesday 2nd November
Short notice (so really appreciate sharing) and we are holding an information session for potential new workers in a variety of roles within NOVA....
Yet again! Somewhere there is a definition of lunacy that runs along the lines of 'lunacy is when you do something the same way and expect a different result'
Today some of Australia's disability employment services will learn whether they will be allowed to continue to deliver their programs or whether they are to be replaced....