Fixing the Australian Disability Employment Program
I believe Australia’s DES program has a good Minister in Senator Mitch Fifield.
Having said that, the good Senator has an ineffective and misled program that focusses (despite denials) on unnecessary compliance, saddled with a crushing administrative burden.
Previous management errors have driven talent from the sector, stifled initiative and created a climate of uncooperative fear.
How do we know this?
The unpalatable truth is that the facts are common knowledge; despite a massive input of taxpayer funds Australia languishes motherless last against other OECD countries when it comes to relative poverty (27th out of 27) and 21st out of 29 for workforce participation of people with disability.
Simply stated: We suck!
We either aren’t doing enough, or our efforts are misplaced – it’s work harder or work smarter!
Personally, knowing the extraordinary effort undertaken by staff in this industry I am going with smarter – I truly don’t think that much more could be expected from workers.
What might smarter look like?
How would you feel if you worked twice as hard as me, or maybe 5 times as hard as me, and we both received the same pay and recognition?
And yet that is exactly the environment in which DES staff find themselves.
If NOVA finds a person who presently receives the Disability Support Pension an 8 hour a week job it is possible we get paid exactly the same money as if we found the same person a 40hr a week job.
However, we would possibly only receive 1/5th of the recognition in the ‘Star Ratings’ – a deeply flawed tool that is supposed to help participants recognise the best services.
Now, I know that not everybody can manage 40hrs, but the old self-imposed industry standard (15hrs a week) was abandoned not because it was impractical, unfair or impossible but rather because the need for improved ‘participation’ numbers.
Today, 5 people getting a little beats 1 person escaping poverty, achieving independence and fulfilling their personal goals. A process frequently supported by multiple wage subsidies.
This practice is repeated across all employment programs and people stand around scratching their heads wondering why there’s a rise in casual and part-time employment!
1st Step to improvement: Recognise quality in outcomes in relation to reduction in welfare dependence.
2nd Step to improvement: Throw away the present Star Ratings, they mislead and encourage inappropriate behaviour.
3rd Step to improvement: Reduce payment for registration and allow multiple agency registration
4th Step to improvement: publish performance data that is based upon improvement in participation (number of people placed) AND economic improvement.
5th Step to improvement: Set a stretch goal for all agencies (say 10% improvement on these indicators during 2015) with a non financial award for agencies that achieve same.
Finally; use the money saved in registration to incentivise the achievement of long term employment that makes a genuine difference in the economic position of the worker (bonus for economic independence).
Linking desired outcomes - improvement in Australia's standing against similar economies - to program process simply makes sense.
Simply use Centrelink data to identify 'performance' via reduction in benefits.
To my knowledge there is absolutely nothing that prevents these simple measures being introduced into the current contracts – such actions would galvanise activity and results while improving the position of people with disability - we are sliding backwards, we need leadership and action to progress..
Come on Senator and DSS (the mob that give us the money) - challenge us!
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Making a tough job tougher!
Making a tough job tougher
It isnt easy to get a decent job and its harder to do so if you have a disability.
NOVA employs around 190 people, an effective and experienced team who are able to draw upon a staff of highly skilled trainers and a support program honed over almost 30 years and tens of thousands of participants....
Your Work There was never any doubt in my mind that I would work. My dad told me I would work and there wasn't ever a suggestion that my future held an alternative option....
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.