One of the benefits of being in the same job within the disability sector for a fair while is that you get to see the intention and effect of reform.
I am of the belief that all government reform is driven by well intentioned and intelligent people. Which is what makes the parade of disaster inflicted upon disability employment services for the last 15 years so difficult to understand.
We have a budget coming up and by now the ink will be dry on government plans to reform (read 'cut') service delivery to the poorest and most disadvantaged members of Australian society.
I have no idea what this will mean for disability employment services (and they really need informed reform, which I will come back to) but I am alarmed by stuff like this:
http://news.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=8237751: "Opposition assistant treasury spokesman Mathias Corman suggested a new coalition government would have been planning an even tougher budget in a repeat of 1996 when the Howard government slashed spending and programs".
The 1996 Howard government reforms to disability employment were disastrous and began a process that led Australian service provision from world's best to schmozzle. Real term funding cuts of more than 20%, blurring of eligibility, introduction of unnecessary and ideologically driven ‘competition’ reduced development, stifled innovation, began a process of ‘dumbing down’ and most importantly of all kept the most needy people from accessing employment.
Today’s DES program is filled with a mixture of people with profound barriers to work and, through a muddled referral process, many people whose level of disability includes ‘barriers’ that I am sorry to say are simply part of the human condition. Recognition through the Star ratings is rorted mercilessly by service providers driven either by the desire for access to significant profit or fear of personal loss of employment.
Here’s an factual example: During a recent employment round we interviewed a person presently working in a DES service. “tell us about your experience’ we said. “I can do the most important aspects of my job well, I am particularly good at job carving” came the reply.
Readers should understand that job carving is an important skill and allows us to take the parts of a job that a person with significant disability can do and separate these from those that they cannot.
Sadly that wasn’t what our potential recruit was talking about. What they meant was, I can take a job offer and persuade the employer to split a 38 hour a week position into 2, 3 or even 4 part time jobs.
Why would you do that?
It could be that the person simply can’t work full time as a direct effect of their disability or part time work might be the individual’s choice. In that case - great.
However, that’s not what our applicant was talking about. They were talking about an organizationally driven instruction to carve employment to ensure higher scores in the dreadfully ill considered, fatally flawed, obviously ludicrous “Star Rating’ system.
Under ‘Stars’ 1 is pretty much 1 and that 1 placement is the same (there are some loadings and the system appears to have seen some minor improvement and it’s still wrong, as I will show later) 2 beats 1, 3 dumps on 1 and 4, well that’s a whole new world of ‘performance’.
Forget the budget. DES programs can be reformed, driven back to innovation and allowed to thrive with simple reform.
Here it is: Allow DES programs to only accept DSP recipients. These folk have had their disability independently verified. Allow these people to register with as many DES providers as they feel might meet their need.
Pay DES services (well) for reduction in benefit in a sliding scale with all reduction recognized and earning sufficient to end benefits really well paid with annual bonus for folk that stay off benefit.
Confirm payment owed to DES program through Centrelink records of actual benefit reduction.
Forget all the ‘quality assurance rubbish inflicted by the funding bodies other than QA certification. Make a rule that 50% of all surpluses, including cumulative surplus, to be returned to the Commonwealth at the end of the financial year.
There would also need to be some underlying funding level sufficient to ensure doors stayed open (but that wouldn’t need to be high).
There you go – effective disability employment service reform in a 2 page document.
It won’t happen – we will have either a repeat of the draconian reform of 1996 or we’ll drop off the radar with no change at all or more paperwork and bureaucracy will be inflicted upon us.
Such is government .
Would you like a face-to-face meeting with Martin via Skype? Click the button below to make an appointment
Subscribe to this Blog - blog.novaemployment.com.au Copy the link above and paste it into your favourite Reader to subscribe to an RSS feed of this blog. To watch a short video explanation of RSS and how it helps you save time reading the web click here
Your Comments Sarah Faith from Forster-Tuncurry wrote on 17 Apr 2011 12:11:03 PM Such an interesting article .... opened my eyes to some facts I had no idea about!
Looking forward to working with you very soon!
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....
According to today's radio around 3 million Australians are living in poverty. The majority rely upon Centrelink (Australia's welfare services hub) to provide the majority of their income although many are also in small hour part time work....
Congratulations to my team for their terrific results for September, a month in which the NOVA staff placed more people into open employment - thats a job just like yours and mine - than at any previous period in our 27 year history
What an exciting time to be working in Disability Employment Services!
Demand exceeds supply (we are advertising for job seekers) and more and more smart business owners are seeing the value of people with disability as a routine part of their hiring decisions and processes....