Each day I receive offers to attend, to send folk or to speak at conferences supposedly to do with disability employment.
Frankly most are a crock.
What are the program creators peddling?
Compliance Management, Quality Assurance, Managing challenging youth and so it goes on….
Nothing, absolutely nothing about the real challenges that face disability employment programs: ensuring program practice is client focused, improving service delivery for people with specific disability, underpinning quality philosophy and so on..
Instead, how to work the system, how to please the bureaucracy, how to make sure your clients are ‘compliant’.
What a load of nonsense!
There’s only 1 thing that counts; supporting people who have a disability, regardless of the level of help they may require, to the best employment outcome for them. You can measure that (best) through the degree of financial independence achieved, the hours worked, the duration of employment post subsidy and so on.
Compliance mentality leads to this sort of nonsense: DEEWR, our funding body sets 6 months as a KPI for employment duration (I actually have no in principle objection to the time frame). However, this is not supported by an ‘hours worked’ clause and 8hr a week positions carry the same credit as 40hr positions.
Jobs are split and while very few achieve independence more people ‘participate’. Government and organisational subsidies heavily discount the value of workers with disability, sometimes by as much as 100% for the 26 week period.
A large number of positions are lost at or shortly after 26 weeks.
Service providers that engage in these practices are rewarded and held up as examples of what can be achieved .
After on-going complaints about such action (just read back through this blog and the work of others) DEEWR put a 28 week check into their ‘quality’ assurance regime.
‘Service’ providers respond by moving 26wks subsidy to 30wks and organise contracts of employment to protect employers against unfair dismissal claims.
We have a new government. We need to return to ‘employment first’ as our battle cry. Sheltered Workshops and Social Firms are NOT an answer for people with significant disability while the most able are creamed off to compliance focussed programs.
We need a new regime (it’ll save squillions in the long term):
Work ‘counts’ when subsidy ends
9hrs work beats 8 and 40 just scoops the pool
Reward service providers for reducing the burden of welfare by allowing Centrelink to be the gatekeeper for measuring outcomes
Drop the management of irrelevant minutiae
Actions based on principle and designed to showcase the ability of people with disability will always flog a compliance focussed mentality (most service providers aren’t thieves)
Believe in the value of the produce – this isn’t a business, it’s a passion.
Reward real change not ‘participation’.
Let's see conferences that train the skills required to support the people with the greatest need, not the programs with the greatest greed.
Now’s the time.
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