On the 14th of this month the following press release was sent to our media:
“Delivering quality and stable employment services for people with disability”
The release came from the relevant ministers; The Hon Bill Shorten MP - Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Financial Services and Superannuation and The Hon Kate Ellis MP - Minister for Employment Participation, Minister for Early Childhood and Child Care.
The press release says in part:
“Today the Australian Government released the Disability Employment Services Star Ratings – which reveal the services that are performing well and those that need to improve.
These March quarter Star Ratings will be used as a basis to determine, which service providers will be required to re-bid for their existing business later this year.
Services performing at the 4 and 5 star level will not be required to re-tender but will be given the opportunity to expand and assist more job seekers in new areas”.
Full copy: http://ministers.deewr.gov.au/shorten/delivering-quality-and-stable-employment-services-people-disability
There are 2 problems.
1. The first is that the Star Ratings are a deeply flawed instrument and will be unceremoniously dumped after new business is awarded.
The Star Ratings distribute results in a bell curve and so, while the difference between program A and program B might be minor, their Star Rating might be significantly different.
If you replaced 80% of the present program providers with the 20% presently achieving 4 or 5 stars then 6 months later you will still have 80% of the new programs achieving 3 stars or less and you could repeat the exercise for ever and always have the same result.
2. In order to escape loss of business and qualify for expansion programs resort to tactics like this:
8 hours or more weekly – 100% wage subsidy at 13 and 26 weeks (up to $4160 total subsidy)
15 hours or more weekly – 100% wage subsidy at 13 and 26 weeks (up to $7800 total subsidy)*
* you can write me and I will send copies of the advertising.
The 13 and 26 week marks are milestones at which data is collected. There's little negative effect upon a programs Star Rating if the participant ends work at 26 weeks and 1 day. The 8 and 15 hour marks are generally the minimum for measurement of an outcome. Finding a person who has a disability a 38 hour a week job offers service providers little incentive. The reward is in plenty of small efforts - break a 40 hour a week job into 5 X 8 hours and you get 5 times the payments and a significantly improved Star Rating.
Smartly thought through, tactics like these skew the Star Ratings and appears to present programs as ‘high performers’ when all they’ve done is temporarily distort the marketplace. These are tactics that disadvantage small business owners who do not accept the offer of free labour and they set up people who have a disability to fail - presenting them not on their inherent worth, but on the basis of either object of pity or burden of charity.
This same system then lets large foreign owned ‘for profits’ take the profits they have acquired overseas.
I appreciate I am a dinosaur. That I need to accept the changes, I need to go with flow and generally stop making a fuss and no – it is simply wrong to exploit the misery of those in systemically imposed poverty.
Quality used to be measured in terms of level of participation (hours worked) wages earned and independence from welfare. These are surely the truest measure of achievement.
What would be even worse would be to keep quiet.
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Your Comments Allan from Melbourne wrote on 16 May 2012 4:03:50 PM
I was involved in disability employment programs immediately after the DSA came into effect. The original idea was to work with the most disadvantaged job seekers - the wording is still the same, it is the emphasis that has changed, from most DISADVANTAGED to MOST disadvantaged - more people and a decline in the support for the most deserving.
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