There appears to be confusion entering the options offered to people seeking disability employment.
Here's the deal: Australian Disability Enterprises (ADE's) are NOT supported employment - they are what used to be called sheltered workshops.
What's the difference?
Money, freedom of association and freedom of movement.
In a sheltered setting workers are 'assessed' as being able to earn at a rate equivalent to a percentage of that earned by a non-disabled person doing the same work. This 'assessment' most frequently asserts that the employee is only able to achieve the minimum level of productivity. Under the present funding arrangements for ADE's there is no incentive for workers to be assisted to leave the sheltered setting to work in a competitive environment. Workers may receive as little as $75 an hour (most).
In supported employment average wages are slightly less than $300 per week.
Freedom of Association.
Supported Employment Programs place people into employment in settings within the general community allowing workers to associate and form relationships with people that do not have a disability.
Sheltered workshops confine their workers in non-integrated settings (I note some small 'mixed' business that employ non disabled workers that are non-supervisory staff - these are by no means in the majority)
Freedom of Movement
Persons employed in competitive settings (through a supported employment program) may change service providers without leaving their jobs and may ask to be found alternative employment or follow a different career.
"Employees" in sheltered settings leave only to go to their homes.
Whenever I post anything that is vaguely critical of sheltered settings I get emails and phone calls telling me what sort of a chap I am (fortunately, I have a fairly thick hide). So, before you call me to tell me that sheltered workshops are just top spots to leave someone, be ready to answer the points of 'difference'. I will listen to any commentator that disagrees when they are able to show that their project has an average hourly rate of $5 or higher, where more than 50% of the employees do not have a disability and where more than 10% of the people employed in that sheltered setting have found work outside (within the last 2 years).
I use these indicators as they are all much less than half the average Australian experience and should therefore be relatively easy to achieve.
Genuine Supported Employment is of vital importance in the progressive development of services for people that have a disability. Muddying the term "supported employment" with what is practiced in sheltered settings risks reducing the quality and number of options available to a highly disadvantaged group.
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