For the month of May (excuse me, I should have pointed out that each month NOVA staff have an internal goal or competition of some sort) the 'comp' revolved around staff war stories: things that had happened that we found personally inspirational, moving or likely to remind ourselves and others of our vision and reason for being. This is in addition to the testimonials that we receive and collate for annual publication.
There are more than 20 entries in a range of categories that include and highlight the ability of our job seekers / workers, the willingness of employers to make adaptation for people with disability, the best 'buzz' and a catch-all 'other'.
There's a theme through every one: the dedication and initiative shown by my staff.
It has been my privilege to work with many motivated, intelligent and thoughtful people. I can say that many have been smarter than I, and my colleagues have often shown better insight and resilience than I have been able to muster - what I can't say is whether they have drawn more encouragement and support than I receive as part of NOVA's staff.
This is a place where people who want to make a difference can find the tools and help necessary to succeed (I count myself amongst these) and the freedom to create opportunities for our job seekers.
We are being audited this week (it's an annual process) against the disability service standards and I expect we will, as usual, pass with flying colours.
I am reminded of the place the Disability Services Act has as a landmark piece of legislation - a milestone that enabled organisations like NOVA to exist and has supported many thousands of Australians to gain independence and participation in our society.
What a pity the present environment no longer encourages innovation or initiative.
I celebrated the move from our previous funding body (now FAHCSIA) to what is now Education, Employment & Workplace Relations - I saw this as an appropriate move that recognised people with a disability on the same footing as their non-disabled peers - wrong, wrong, wrong!
What a disaster has occurred.
Instead of searching for new methods for improving programs or seeking better and new ways to increase participation, a regime of compliance, control and stifling bureaucracy has sought to crush the life out of the disability employment network, reducing passion to process, smashing initiative on an anvil of micromanagement and obsession with trivium.
Here's the rub: many of the people presently on DSP do not have major obstacles to participation in the workplace. How did these folk get where they are? Government (Labour & Liberal) parked thousands in DSP rather than the less politically acceptable long term unemployed. Structural inequality between New Start and DSP mean only the brave or uninformed now attempt transition.
The present direction for disability employment is flawed and must inevitably achieve exactly the opposite of its stated intention. The 'Star Ratings' are meaningless*(*Question for today: If the 'Stars' are so good, why dump them? If they suck (and they do) why use them as a measurement system?).
Despite, rather than through, government policy and direction, meaningful outcomes are being achieved for thousands of young people who have a disability. While the 'star' system actively encourages abandoning young people with disability to long term unemployment many DEN services stick to principle and mission.
Hearing their stories is tremendously encouraging - I will post a book of good news as an antidote and counterweight to the present environment.
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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.