The following taken from both the Disability Services Act and a recent blog post:
People receiving services funded under the Act would have a level of disability that, “results in a substantially reduced capacity of the person: (A) to obtain or retain unsupported paid employment”
What is meant by unsupported?
Unsupported employment suggests that the worker concerned IS able to achieve and maintain independence in the workplace.
What is meant by supported employment?
Just that, the individuals that entered these programs would (generally) be unable to gain or keep jobs in the community without a commitment from suitable skilled staff to ensure each individuals productivity remained commercially acceptable and this support would be both regular and on-going.
Such a person might need daily assistance to remain on-task and would be unlikely to see a week pass without some level of help and also without this help they would be at risk of losing their job.
Following the passing of the Disability Services Act, Australia becomes really good at providing this sort of assistance and by 1995 about 49,000 people are receiving help as described in the Act.
Service providers begin to develop and share the art and science that is post placement support – a formula is articulated that has been tried and tested – get to know the person, identify their strengths and aspirations and match these against the local labour market to create an outcome with the greatest chance of long term success.
There are some accepted ground rules <15hrs employment each week doesn’t really count. This is because less time does not allow for social integration within the workplace (making friends), financial independence or the development of skills so that a career path can be developed.
This would mean service users could have an expectation of working at least 2 full days a week or maybe 5 part time days, they would be able to build friendships and relationships and the income received would be sufficient to make a difference in their lives and the complexity of the roles they could fulfil.
Job retention is measured after any subsidy has been exhausted and 26 weeks is taken as the first meaningful milestone.
Key Performance Indicators that put the person with a disability and their interests first.
Skip forward 27 years.
There’s a problem (actually there are multiple problems!)
For a variety of reasons the number and characteristics of people in receipt of the Disability Support Pension has changed significantly, there are many people being referred to disability employment programs that are better described as the “Worried Well’, rather than those with chronic mental illness, the population of people with physical disability has ballooned (these folk were previously the province of the Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service (CRS) an organisation set up for such job seekers and one not able to deliver long term on-site post placement help).
The KPI’s upon which business is allocated have also been dramatically adjusted and initially include nonsense such as ‘speed to placement’ ( a KPI that sounds smart but does not acknowledge the needs of those with higher levels of disability and immediately results in ‘creaming’ (the practice of seeking and placing the easiest rather than the most needy.
8 hrs of employment is treated as equal to 38 for the purposes of the ‘quality’ rating system (Star Ratings) and service providers that do not break up real work in meaningless packets are disadvantaged. Service providers that remain attached to genuine social inclusion are told by the funding body (and of course I can prove my quote): “If you can’t beat them, join them”.
‘Employment’ is gained by the misuse of generous subsidies. It is possible to offer employers a subsidy for 26 weeks that is equal to the total wage bill of the worker. This practice still enables the service provider to retain a substantial profit (Anyone that wants more details and specific examples is welcome to contact me).
As a result ‘participation’ increases and presently more than 150,000 people have become so engaged. However, in the past 2 years only a very small number (8000) people have actually left the DSP to enter a level of employment that takes them completely from welfare.
Can people with disability work?
Can people with disability earn sufficient to gain economic independence?
Absolutely, even those with the level of disability originally indicated in the 1986 Disability Services Act.
However, the disability employment program will not succeed again until there is a restoration of KPUI”s that are linked to program goals. KPI’s that change lives: hours of employment, wages earned and job retention AFTER government subsidy should be used to restore a quality service program.
While some say, we are doing well and should recognise the level of participation the response is simple: if we are doing so well why are we motherless last in terms of poverty amongst people with disability and 21 out of 27 when it comes to participation in employment?
Change the administrative nightmare that presently controls the program, use Centrelink records (reduction in payments) to identify success, reward ‘off benefits’ handsomely, allow people with disability to register with more than 1 provider (cut the money for registration), dump subsidies, remove the present geographic operating restrictions and licence employment service providers to work where they can make money (they will only do this by succeeding in the core goal of getting people with disability the best possible outcomes possible.
There was a giant ‘brain drain’ caused by the recent loss of 60 excellent providers (firms that provided post placement support) and those skills need to be re-acquired. Implementing the suggestions above will force providers to revisit the skills we used to take for granted and prevent my time being wasted by calls from people asking if NOVA can provide post placement support as this is something many now do not do.
More to come on why we are losing post placement support skills soon.
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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.
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....