The present state of disability employment service in Australia is poor and sadly, there seems little prospect of positive change in the near future.
Here’s a brief synopsis:
The contract for the provision of service is deeply flawed and gaming behaviours have been positively rewarded (and still are).
Many ‘5 Star’ sites simply buy outcomes by offering a 100% subsidy for the period required to achieve time in work ‘milestones’.
This is possible because ‘benchmark hours’, a nominal indicator of a person’s capacity to participate in work are as low as 8hrs a week in employment (8hrs a week x 26weeks @ $20ph = $4160).
The minimum payments the service provider can expect are approximately double this.
Service providers are encouraged to break full time positions to part time roles maximising the financial gain for their organisation while driving their ‘Star Rating’ upward.
Traditional services prior to this nonsense would have been driven by the goal of ensuring maximum participation and consequently aimed high, securing less numerical outcomes but maximising the independence of people with disability.
Redistribution of market share and a ‘participation’ driven purchasing process have seen an exodus of skilled staff, the cessation of innovation and a denial of service to people with more significant disability.
The workers in this ‘industry’ are under constant and real threat of losing their jobs and service unless they perform. The ‘performance’ is NOT maximum participation, rather it is maximum participants.
It requires very strong philosophical commitment and much nerve to resist the pressure that comes from the funding body to get as many people as humanly possible into any sort of job rather than meeting their individual needs and aspiration.
This is a personal viewpoint: Amongst the creators of the present system there appears to be an ingrained lack of belief in the ability of people with disability to succeed or fully participate in work.
Creaming (the practice of placing the most able into work) has reduced the participation of people with more significant disability – comment from this weeks DEA conference, ‘when was the last time you saw someone with Down’s syndrome in a DES outlet’?!
Making real change, ensuring full participation and aiming high to challenge participants are historical fact, but currently absent.
Don’t agree? – that’s cool and you might like to send me evidence to support your belief.
I can show you that overall placements continue to reduce (the ‘cream’ may have been creamed!), 13 and 26 week ‘outcomes are falling, people with genuine disability are either being excluded or abandoned to the tokenism of 6 months created work that neither improves their independence of highlights their true value and contribution.
One final fact: NOVA’s average hours in employment continue to be significantly higher than the national average and more than 20% of all participants either very significantly decrease their reliance on welfare or achieve total financial independence – I believe I am correct in stating the national average is 4% (on this I am running on memory and open to correction).
I think we may have a decent Minister in Mitch Fifield.
Mitch; open challenge that’s easy to run – post the financial independence results achieved for every disability employment service provider alongside the ‘Star’ Ratings offer a trophy for and promote the end of 2015 ‘most independent workers (as a percentage of total caseload)’.
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Benchmarks To access NOVA Employment or any Disability Employment Service (DES), almost everyone is required to be assessed by the Services Australia Services (Centrelink) to determine their "Benchmark" hours: Benchmark hours are the pay point for service providers; being the minimum working hours required for the DES provider to bill the Government and the assessed maximum hours a person is deemed capable of working with DES support....
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