The Honourable Kate Ellis MP is the person responsible for funding of disability employment services. Can you see what’s wrong with the following:
Kate says, “We will continue to enlist the services of existing expert providers under the Disability Employment Services Employment Support Service that are performing at the highest 4 and 5 Star levels. They will be assured of continued funding through to 2015.
Those that are only performing at average (3 Star) or lower levels will be invited to demonstrate their capacity through a procurement process that will be open to other providers. To support providers in preparing for this transition, the existing contract for providers will be extended by 8 months to conclude in March 2013”
That’s right, you've guessed it – there’s no thought to the consequences of the actions indicated above.
This announcement will affect 86% of the people currently serviced by Disability Employment Services. The method used for determining performance is fatally flawed since, as any thinking person would realise there is no actual definition of what constitutes ‘performance’ and the measurement is on a forced scale that means no matter how good every service is approximately 85% can’t be 4 or 5 star services (since ‘performance’ is measured against all other providers).
What does this announcement achieve?
It creates uncertainty for job seekers and sets service providers in a mad race to ensure they are not required to take part in a procurement process. In its present form this process results in the widespread rorting that took place prior to the last tender process. Practices included job carving, creaming and skimming that meant job seekers lost out (and so did the Commonwealth – which is taxpayers like you and me).
An example, and I use a fictitious family restaurant chain that’s completely unlike any presently operating in this country: McBurgerjacks.
A DES provider approaches McBurgerjacks in Western Sydney, simultaneously; in Eastern Sydney another DES provider approaches their local MBJ’s store. The pitch is the same; we have people interested in working in your place, what have you got? Both MBJ’s managers say, ‘a full time position for a keen hard worker’. The DES providers then differ;
Service A brings along their client Dave, who is interviewed, gets the job and begins to work 38 hours a week. As a result Dave is able to get off the pension, spends enough time at work to develop meaningful relationships, and begins to play an active roll in his community as taxpayer and consumer. MBJ’s get a subsidy for the first 3 months of Dave’s employment.
Service B says to MBJ’s hey we have 4 people who would each like to work 8 hours a week – we’ll give you 4 x the job start subsidy and you’ll be helping 4 times the number of people. MBJ’s buys in (it’s costing them exactly nothing), Mandy, Mavis, Margaret and Igor start work, they don’t earn enough to reduce their pension, nor do they spend sufficient time at the store to either develop their careers or build real friendships.
Which service is performing better?
You guessed it, service B gets the ‘Stars’. If they really want to get ahead they rotate the workers out after 4 months or so, maximising their return, making the employer feel good and making an absolute fortune out of the process.
Recently I introduced a change in the way NOVA Employment recognises internal performance. I made a rule that no work under 15 hours a week would count toward staff incentive and work recognition. We still get some 8-15 hour a week positions and I accept that for some workers such time is sufficient. However, NOVA wants each person that comes to us to participate to the greatest extent possible. However, following this decision the number of small, part time jobs dropped dramatically while the number of positions obtained continued to grow. I appreciate my staff getting behind my decision and I would like to acknowledge their skill in ensuring the best possible outcome for people with disability.
Now we need a Minister that’s prepared to do the same. Stop the silly wasteful procurement process that has seen so much damage done to eth career hopes of people with disability. Bring in a fair system that licences employment services and allows consumers choice in their service provider. Let the market decide who gives good service, create an environment in which ‘quality’ can thrive on its own merits and the unworthy are allowed to sink.
Before I finish and on a more practical note – every contract, lease, rental and deal NOVA has is tied to 30th June 2012 – changing the date to give us time is most unwelcome, wasteful and ill considered. This Minister’s decision will result in cost and an administration burden that reduces the services available to job seekers. It certainly won’t improve them.
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Your Comments Sarah Faith from Forster-Tuncurry wrote on 10 Jul 2011 7:37:47 AM Welcome back. Even though we haven't met yet!
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