It was a genuine pleasure to meet with Mr Mark Arbib the new Minister for Workplace participation and his adviser Ms Julie Sibraa.
It's not possible to please everyone (so I reckon they should concentrate on me!) and in the process of improvement of employment services for people who have a disability the Minister treads a bumpy road.
So, what's he like?
He has some big shoes to fill - I was impressed by Brendan O'Connor, Mr Arbib's predecessor and the best Minister for a while, but this bloke might be alright.
I was accompanied by 2 colleagues from Disability Services Australia and Macarthur Disability Services (Tony Lund and Ann Thorn) and our Minister listened carefully while we outlined our concerns for the future of what is now the DEN. Ann pointed out strongly that MDS, like NOVA has spent many, many years developing not just employment opportunities but the community in which they and we operate. Tony reminded the Minister of the many other intangible outcomes achieved through not-for-profit involvement in employment programs and we collectively argued for a better method for assessing what constitutes a good outcome.
Despite DEEWR's encouragement to split jobs so that the number of placements can rise many traditional services like DSA, MDS and NOVA remain committed to ensuring each person that comes to us is empowered to achieve the maximum possible participation - more hours, more pay.
You can see that we have succeeded in this by a comparison of wages paid and hours earned. However, we don't have the same number of jobs found.
Easy - you can either get a job seeker a single job for 40 hours a week or you can take the same job, split it into 5 and get 5 outcomes (you also potentially get 5 times the funding from government).
Services with strong moral commitments seek the best outcome for the individual not an arbitrary Star Rating - I hope the Minister was genuinely listening (he seemed to be)
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