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. For me, the problem has been that the Stars create a climate that encourage bad practices like gaming and creaming - exploiting unintended loopholes and excluding the most disadvantaged job seekers.
To their credit our major funding body (Department of Social Services or DSS) have recently introduced changes to the way recognition is allocated to job placements. I believe that these changes promote better outcomes for people with disability, particularly in relation to the permanency of employment.
Today, the 23rd of May 2017, sees the release of the latest Star Ratings and NOVA has for the first time achieved a perfect 5 Star Rating for all of our sites excluding those located in the Southern Ranges ESA for whom we have 12 months to get our program into order.
In my recent book, "The 10 Demandments" I put forward the idea that 'Aiming High' is an obligation for service providers and should be a demand from service users. The thought being that the more hours worked, the greater the wages earned and the longer employment is retained the more likely we are to continue progress toward a truly inclusive society.
(Aside from improved independence there's another argument here about also being the best use of, or an obligation on behalf of, the Commonwealth of Australia - the more hours worked the greater return on investment for government or taxpayer funds)
With this in mind I tasked the NOVA team to ignore the Star Ratings and chase the best possible outcomes for people with disability - more hours, more pay, longer retention, better quality jobs, career development - the sort of things that make everyone's work more enjoyable.
I believe we have succeeded (although hard data is difficult to come by and some things are drawn conclusions rather than readily check-able fact).
Around 10% of all NOVA jobs are Apprenticeships and Traineeships. More than 23% of all jobs found are full time roles. Minimum hour jobs (*hrs per week) are around half the National average (there's more here but we live in a competitive environment!).
The goal of aiming high coupled with a terrific management team, the most dedicated placement and support specialists in our nation and the best systems support has led to today's results - a perfect score of 5 for every NOVA site.
I still don't like the Stars but given we live or die on their acquisition its nice to know that Star success can be coupled with great outcomes for people with disability
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