I received an email from the Training Resources Network: www.trninc.com, a terrific organisation headed up by a NOVA friend, Dale DiLeo a champion of disability rights who graciously agreed to join us in Australia last year to present some staff training.
The following is taken from http://raymondsroom.blogspot.com/ and I recommend a full read:
In a just released report sure to be controversial, the National Disability Rights Network has called for an end to segregated work, sheltered employment, and sub-minimum wage. In an introductory note, NDRN executive director Curt Decker states:
"...hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities are being isolated and financially exploited by their employers. Many are segregated away from traditional work and kept out of sight. Most are paid only a fraction of the minimum wage while many company owners make six -figure salaries. Many people profit off of their labor. All, except the worker. For many people with disabilities, their dream of leaving their - job training program - will never come true. They labor away making only a tiny portion of what they should because there is a system in place that provides no true alternatives."
"For the past several decades, activists and advocates for disability rights were complacent in our silence. The National Disability Rights Network, included. We fought for and continue to fight for community integration and an end to the abuse and neglect of people with disabilities while neglecting the evidence that segregated settings, sheltered work and sub-minimum wage contradicts this effort. Sheltered workshops are not what they promise to be, and sometimes serve as an unsettling example of how good intentions can lead to terrible outcomes."
"Simply put, sheltered workshops are just another institution segregating people with disabilities away because of our unwillingness to accept that our perceived notions about their ability to work may be wrong."
The report goes on to list and elaborate on several reasons segregated work must end:
Segregated work, sheltered environments, & sub-minimum wage directly contradict national policy.
Work segregation of people with disabilities is damaging.
Sub-minimum wages reinforce a life of poverty for people with disabilities.
Sheltered workshops lead nowhere.
Sheltered workshops profit greatly from the status quo.
In Australia we have gone quiet on this debate and seemingly simply accept that it is OK to have dual systems with luck (good or bad) determining which looks after you. The practice of allowing sheltered workshops to go through our school population trawling for recruits into the State government's Transition to Work program is particularly damaging and should be stopped immediately - those kids are denied any opportunity to leave at the time when their employability and readiness to pick up new skills is at its greatest.
Cheers Dale, I was inspired by your blog.
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Your Comments Patrick Cooper from Brisbane wrote on 22 Nov 2013 12:02:45 PM I recently undertook a pretty extensive research engagement with various Australian Disability Enterprises (ADE), which the author chose to insultingly call "sheltered workshops" and I take umbridge at the complete lack of understanding and appreciation of what these organisations provide. Clearly Dale is completely missinformed regarding the valuable contribution these place provide to those with disability. Many of whom start by working at an ADE recieve training and support and then go on to work in open employment. Sadly many will never have this capability and the author once again fails to appreciate that not every person with a disability will be able to do so. Regardless of how hard we wish it to be. The foolish, narrow minded and clearly missinformed article fails to account for the multiple organisations that deliver quality lifestyle engagement to those with disaqbility by providing them with valued and valuable employment. This provides the participant with social engagement, dignity and a feeling of belonging to and contributing to the community. The article is clearly written with a bias borne from the early 1970s and before the current format of these highly valuable organisations. I find this article an insult to people with disability everywhere.
Martin from St Marys wrote on 23 Nov 2013 1:31:40 PM Thanks Patrick
I appreciate a your different viewpoint and remain firmly convinced thath much more not only can, but needs to be done. For example the recent decision of the High Court of Australia that the tool used by the majority of sheltered workshops to measure the productivity of people with an intellectual disability violates their human rights and is an unfair and inaccurate means of assessing productivity simply affirms what everyone knows - workers are exploited.
The national average wage for people in sheltered settings is a little over $4 an hour.
'Open Employment first' needs to become our minifesto, not 'the good offsets the bad'.
Richard H Douglas from Kent UK wrote on 30 Jan 2014 11:16:20 PM I think Patrick Cooper said most of what i would comment on, and I agree with most of it. As someone who worked as a supervisor/trainer in sheltered workshops in Auckland NZ, I can see both sides of the debate, it is a very complex issue,some clients/trainees will never work in the commercial realm ,while others progress to full employment with understanding employers......But they must not be closed down simply because a few bad eggs exploit the vulnerable. the AED should compel all workshops to become incorporated society's, and not for profit organisations.
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....