Mitch Fyfield is a good bloke, I've met him and he strikes me as sincere and very supportive of people who have a disability.
This is what he said on Wednesday (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-05-07/intellectually-disabled-workers-not-getting/5435290)
"I'm deeply concerned and disappointed about the decision of the Human Rights Commission," he told AM.
"I appreciate that they have the best of intentions, but if Australian Disability Enterprises were required to immediately move to a new wage assessment tool which would double the cost of providing employment, then ADEs - which most of them really struggle to break even as it is - a lot of ADEs would become unviable and cease to exist."
Mitch, your concerns are appreciated and when ADE's were first shaken up to improve conditions a number of assessment tools for determining appropriate wage levels were introduced. BSWAT was only one.
It was clear from the introduction of these tools that BSWAT was employer friendly, 'soft' and likely to produce a low wage. In the development of our ADE we compared BSWAT against other tools and chose to follow the Supported Wage Assessment path in the sure knowledge that it would produce the highest wage for our workers.
NOVA's ADE employees presently average more than 3 times the average hourly rate of workers in BSWAT assessed enterprises.
That's not a boast it is a simple reflection of what we knew would happen when we sought to fairly assess the productivity of our workers - that's all the SWS is: it's fair!
The facts are that sheltered workshops (and that's what we are talking about) have had many years to get their acts together - many have managed just fine and some have not. Those that have not are now being given a further year to adjust their business model.
A year is a hell of a long time to receive unfair and discriminatory treatment!
Whenever I write on sheltered workshops I cop some hate mail, before you bother I am not suggesting your son or daughter be thrown to the streets to fend for themselves. I only point out that sheltered workshops have been given years to sharpen their business models, many assessment tools were/are available BSWAT is only one - its not a choice of SWS Vs BSWAT there are other fair assessment tools available. Many Australian Disability Enterprises use fair assessment processes and assessment tools. The Commission only spoke to the deliberate use of a process that was patently unfair to workers. The High Court found that workers were being unfairly paid.
Almost unbelievably a further year has been given for this process to continue, the only consolation is it's not the 3 years that was asked for.
Fair work = Fair pay for EVERY Australian
Surely workers deserve that now?
For the information of readers I include my letter to the HRC from late last year:
Australian Human Rights Commission
GPO Box 5218
SYDNEY NSW 2001
11th October 2013
Application for Exemption under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth)
I am writing in opposition to the application by the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) for exemption from sections 15 and 24 of the Disability Discrimination Act.
I am presently the Chief Executive of NOVA Employment, a Sydney based Disability Employment Service (DES) and I have worked in the field of disability employment for 26 years. In that time I have been responsible for vocational training programs, open employment services, an Australian Disability Enterprise (ADE) and a large Transition to Work program.
The Federal Court’s findings declare that the use of the BSWAT measure by 2 ADE’s unlawfully discriminated against Mr Nojin and Mr Prior.
Surely, that’s the end?
It would be difficult to imagine another Federal Court decision where discrimination was proved and then subsequently enshrined for as much as 3 years.
Indeed, how could this be?
Imagine the scene: the High Court brings down its verdict; I have discriminated against my non- disabled employees. I turn to the judges and say, ‘you are right, I have, but I am short of a quid and my accountant’s busy for a few years, do you think I might wait to fix things till then?’
Laughable if it were not the very issue.
There is a suggestion by FaHCSIA that the BSWAT may deliver a more favourable outcome in some circumstances – that should be readily proved from data presently available, if it is not then surely no further discrimination should be contemplated or risked?
I note the repeated use of the word ‘may’ in the ‘current situation’ section of the FaHCSIA application. Surely, if the BSWAT ‘may’ be a better tool in some circumstances, then it equally ‘may not’ and if it does not consistently deliver a fair outcome then surely there is an obligation to immediately source a fair and non-discriminating alternative?
The truth is that people with disability have been marginalised and underpaid in sheltered settings for decades.
It does not have to be that way.
Our ADE (Café 64) is located in Walgett, a small country town (pop 2200) in the north west of NSW. I invite you to visit this facility or at least to view some of our online material: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dfwt5-L2KJw .
There are approximately 20 employees and 17 have significant disability.
My organisation does not use the BSWAT. We chose the Supported Wage Assessment process in the sure knowledge that was the most effective and fairest measure of our worker’s productivity.
FaHCSIA’s data clearly shows the result. Our workers typically are assessed as having a higher level of disability, they are paid almost 4 times the average wage for workers in ADE’s, they work slightly less hours and are far more likely to be Indigenous Australians.
They (the workers) are happy in the knowledge they receive a fair days pay for their contribution, that this contribution varies dependent upon ability but that higher skills are rewarded with higher wages - just like everywhere else.
The decision to use SWS costs us. Although recent developments and additions are moving Café 64 toward a much stronger bottom line, the service has to be supported by other parts of the organisation.
You will be strongly lobbied to the contrary of the views I express.
The truth is that services know their workers could earn more. Many could work in open employment and this can be easily proved through a consideration of results achieved when the free transfer of people between what is now DES and ADE programs was permitted.
Anecdotal information suggest collusion between assessors and programs that is not necessarily evilly motivated but that reflects the assertion made by FaHCSIA that ADE closure is a possibility if wages are increased.
Again, surely that is not the point. If I was imprisoned and the Federal Court ruled that my incarceration was unfair, under what circumstances could a reasonable argument be made that I might be better off in jail? That perhaps bad things might happen to me outside of my cell or I might skip a meal?
The arguments against immediate action to stop discrimination are either weak or spurious – the situation exposed by the experience of Mr Nojin and Mr Prior has been understood for many years. That workers were and are being underpaid has been accepted with a nudge and a wink and the repetition of the flawed arguments rehashed in this application.
Time to stop.
It is both reassuring and exciting to see the opportunity to end discrimination. That is in the interests of people with disability and the broader Australian community.
I invite you to come to Walgett and see for yourselves what is being achieved and I am more than happy to expand on any point made above or in relation to this unfair application.
Link to review of other assessment tools: http://www.dss.gov.au/our-responsibilities/disability-and-carers/publications-articles/policy-research/analysis-of-wage-assessment-tools-used-by-business-services-0
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New Contract but no change!
New Contract but no change!
Today marks the first day of a new Disability Employment Service (DES) contract.
There are new players and new rules....
'It's nice to be busy' and 'busy is better than idle' and all of my mum's other sayings about work being good for you, and all of them said; we're drowning!
The administrative burden of a new Disability Employment Service contract (starts July 1st) and the mountains of paperwork required for an NDIS dollar (approximately 10X that of the former TTW program) has seen us add 3 extra staff to the admin team and we are still receiving a large volume of enquiries that are causing us some time delay in getting back to folk....
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However, getting paid to be inspired is not the worst way to spend a Monday afternoon and that is just how my day has gone....
I am truly fortunate to work with the very best people in this great nation and we are truly lucky to be part of the best short film festival this side of anywhere!
"Focusonability" voting starts today and there is an even larger number of films (287) than last year....
On the money Sometime over the next week a new Disability Employment Service contract will be announced.
We are moving into a new world of greater consumer choice and greater mobility of job seekers....
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....
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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:
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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....