I have already expressed my appreciation for the Sydney Morning Herald's Linton Bessar (more!). The following is pinched from his recent article: http://www.smh.com.au/national/minister-acts-over-claims-of-fraud-by-employment-agencies-20111221-1p5on.html#ixzz1hTuy9WIn
While the story relates to general employment programs for unemployed Australians – Job Services Australia – the general thrust of this and the other recent articles identifying widespread abuse could equally be written about Disability Employment Services:
“The federal government will investigate abuse of the multibillion-dollar Job Services Australia program and enforce ''more stringent evidentiary requirements'' on thousands of employment agencies claiming fees under the scheme.
The Minister for Employment Participation, Kate Ellis, will announce today that Robert Butterworth, a former Commonwealth official, has been hired to examine agencies claiming a disproportionate number of fees from the program.
The inquiry has been prompted by a Herald investigation which found rorting of the welfare-to-work program was rampant.
Government sources have confirmed the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations has known for more than a decade about the problems.
Under the scheme, which was started by the Howard government, employment agencies are paid to assist the unemployed to find work and reduce their reliance on Centrelink payments.
Agencies which find or ''broker'' more jobs for welfare-recipients win higher fees and higher star ratings, which in turn improves their chances of getting government contracts worth potentially millions of dollars”.
Absolutely the expected and the incorrect response.
Expected because this and every government seek to ensure no mud sticks to them – so the ‘problem’ will be either the programs themselves or there will be an attempt to stick failure to the department that funds them (DEEWR).
Neither response is correct and that's why this is the incorrect response. This failure is a failure of policy and lies with the desire to achieve greater numerical outcomes at the expense of the people the system is supposed to serve and that’s where it is so particularly tragic that people who have a disability have been similarly played (Incidentally the peak bodies that represent general and disability employment services should also be ashamed for never having the intestinal fortitude to stand up to government).
For 7 years I have spoken publicly against this system and I have been ignored, mocked or told to shut up.
This blog contains any number of rants and specific examples of the sort of conduct that improves ‘Star’ ratings.
The improvement occurs at the expense of people that have a disability and at the expense and careers of genuinely committed and dedicated staff that are judged by tehir failure to also have services with higher Star Ratings.
Again: Higher ‘Stars’ can easily be achieved by splitting work – breaking a full time job into 2 or more part time and/or casual positions. In 2005 when I first raised the obvious outcome of this insanity I was told that ‘we (the government department that is now DEEWR) can rely on the integrity of service providers’. So any comment I then made at that meeting was dismissed as a slur on the integrity of other providers.
My comments were no such thing. They were simply the informed opinion of someone that had seen what had happened (first hand) in general employment programs.
These have been failures of policy – policy failures that have led to the casualisation of the Australian workforce. “Work Choices” wasn’t the problem, “Fair Work” is not the solution. The issue lays at the silly central thrust of present policy: more numbers=good, less numbers=bad.
What is truly terrifying in the reported comment of the present Minister, Kate Elllis that are noted above is that the official answer is to, “enforce ''more stringent evidentiary requirements''.
There could not be more stringent evidentiary requirements – we are drowning in a sea of meaningless paperwork that has done nothing to prevent the abuses that have occurred.
Here’s the simple answer (again, noted in this blog for years) – reward reduction in pension benefits where these have been caused by the actions of the agency. License employment services so they can operate where there is need and allow job seekers to register with as many programs as they like.
Clean, easy, elegant – so we’ll never see it.
And finally Minister, before you finally destroy what little exists of Australia’s formally vibrant and effective disability employment services – forget the present ridiculous, corrupt and uninformative Star Rating system, remove the profit ‘incentive’ that has seen us slip from 4th to 21st in world rankings and restore rewards for real results.
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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.