The following represents my own personal opinion and is not necessarily reflective of the opinion or policy of NOVA Employment and Training Program Inc.
I will not vote for either of the major political parties.
It has been my privilege to work in the field of disability employment under Prime Ministers, Hawke, Keating, Howard, Rudd and Gillard; 5 Labour administrations and 4 Liberal.
The following is simple truth and can be verified through documented fact.
The Hawke government introduced the Disability Services Act (1986) enabling legislation that allowed for the funding of program similar to NOVA.
By 1996 (Election of John Howard’s liberal government) 49,000 people were involved in such programs (referred to finally as the ‘capped’ program).
In 2006 this number had reduced to 39,000 and the level and type of disability serviced by providers had changed following ideologically driven adjustments to goals. This number increased substantially following the introduction of an ‘uncapped’ program (2006) targeting persons with different and frequently less barriers to employment.
In 2010 the Rudd (Labour) government merged the 2 programs and removed the ‘cap’ allowing as many persons that wished to participate to access disability employment services.
It has been my privilege to meet with each of the Prime Ministers listed above (except Mr Rudd) and many other senior politicians over the 20 years that NOVA has operated. Almost without exception our elected representatives have been intelligent, caring and interested in the development of programs that assist the most disadvantaged Australians.
It is my often quoted belief that it is the funding body administration of disability employment service programs that callously ignores the effect of government legislation, not politicians or party direction.
That said, over the past 20 years Labour has consistently improved (with a couple of bumps like the Disability Reform Package – who thought of that?) the opportunities for job seekers with disability and it is Liberal governments that have allowed Australia’s programs to languish or even reduce.
The big question for each party should be whether there is an intention for open tender (with the associated and horrifying prospect of destabilisation) in 2012 or not - yes/no, pass/fail.
As I said, I won’t vote for either of them and you might like to keep the above in mind for August.
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