Category: Employment

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I am here to remind you, not to teach you …

Standing beneath a huge circus tent you have to wonder how they put it up. For someone who struggles with putting up the family tent each Christmas on our annual camping holiday this tent it is unimaginable, how they not only get this it up but that it is still standing days later!

We are standing not sitting as we are not watching a circus. We are standing as the rhythms of Afro Moses demand that you are on your feet moving, something that thankfully does not require too much skill. Our family is spending the weekend at our ‘funky little festival’.

One line from Afro Moses reminds me of the week I just had, 3 days in the Hunter/New England region talking to people with disability and their families about their transition from school student to employee in the open labour market. How to use their NDIS School Leavers Employment Support funding to choose a provider which will support them into a job of their choice. No one said that they wanted to be a afro/blues singer but they all had aspirations to have a job; including a graphic artist, a mechanic and a teacher.

In talking to people with disability and their families about work in the open labour market; about the opportunity for people with significant disabilities not to be reliant on the DSP, to be able to afford the ‘extras’ that working people take for granted; about the opportunity to build skills for independent living , to be able to travel by themselves; to have the opportunity to make friends through working with a wide range of people; I am not telling them something new. When our children are born we all have expectations and hope for them. Without an awareness of what lies ahead we plan a future of happiness and being part of their community. As the years roll by hopes are dashed as our daughters and sons are constantly reminded of their deficiencies and what they will not be able to do because they have a disability. They are separated from their peers and so do not see themselves reflected in the expected activities of their community, work, sport, music, etc. All manner of people, teachers, therapists, social workers, government agencies, etc, tell them that they are different, not different special like Afro Moses who has an enormous talent for music, not like the special people who put up this enormous tent, but special because they cannot do …

The choice of our daughters and sons to be a graphic artist or a teacher reminds us of our first hopes and aspirations. Wanting to be like their brothers and sisters reminds us that we all live in our community and we should all be fully in it. Wanting to have a job that pays well and is interesting reminds us that service providers have a responsibility to make choices happen, not to remind people of the low expectations of the past.

From now on I will open my talks with the phrase, “I am here to remind you not to teach you …”

When you get the right employment support good things happen!

21 DES services for people with intellectual disability show the way forward

People with significant intellectual disability can work in the open labour market when they get the right support.

The DES Outcome Rates by Disability Type report shows that some DES providers are achieving high rates of open employment outcomes for people with intellectual disability.

Twenty-one (21) providers are achieving 26-week employment outcome rates greater than fifty percent (>50%) for people with intellectual disability, with the highest performing provider achieving eighty-four percent (84%).

The highest performing provider had the following distinguishing features;

  1. Structured job search to customise a job specifically for a person with intellectual disability and building a compelling business case to the employer.
  2. Undertaking job analysis to establish the employer’s needs for job performance.
  3. Systematic job training by qualified staff at the work site to achieve the required job performance.
  4. Ongoing support with the employer and employee to maintain the quality of the job.

DES providers that adopt evidence based employment support for people with intellectual disability are demonstrating high rates of employment outcomes from 5 to 8 out of 10 persons with intellectual disability getting jobs that last at least six months.

The Commonwealth should be congratulated for;

  • focusing on rewarding providers who achieve good results,
  • introducing consequences for providers who achieve poor results, and,
  • publishing provider results by disability type, and creating an informed market.

The Executive Director of Inclusion Australia (formerly the National Council on Intellectual Disability), Mr Mark Pattison said,

“High performing DES providers deserve our recognition for their excellence in assisting people with intellectual disability get and keep jobs in the open labour market. It is encouraging to see a growing number of providers achieving 26-week employment outcome rates beyond 50%.”

These results indicate that future reform of Disability Employment Services must ensure that good practice remains viable and expanded to reach a greater number of people with intellectual disability across all regions who need the right support to get a job in the open labour market.

For inquires, contact Mark Pattison; mark.pattison@inclusionaustralia.org.au; 0407 406 647

Full statement including table

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Mobility Allowance ending causes concern …

Inclusion Australia has written to Minister Porter after we have received increasing concerns from family members of people with intellectual disability about the 2016 Federal Budget changes to the Mobility Allowance.

With the administration of this payment moving from the Department of Human Services (Centrelink) to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (National Disability Insurance Authority), families are seeking certainty that current payment levels will be guaranteed and that their sons and daughter will not be worse off under the new arrangements.
The Mobility Allowance is an employment incentive to support people with disability unable to use public transport without substantial assistance because of disability, illness, or injury and who travel to and from home for paid work, voluntary work, study or training, or to look for work.
This allowance is essentially designed to support the employment of people with disabilities.
The current open employment participation rates of people with intellectual disability who receive national disability services has been in steady decline over the long term. Inclusion Australia believes it is critical that new policy should ensure that current positive employment outcomes and practices are not harmed.
We have asked Minister Porter to provide certainty that the 2016 Federal Budget measure will not reduce the current payment received by people with intellectual disability participating or seeking to participate in the workforce.
If you have concerns about the Mobility Allowance or any of the 2016 Budget measures please make a comment below.

A national inclusive employment plan for people with intellectual disability

MEDIA STATEMENT

Inclusion Australia welcomes the Willing To Work National Inquiry into Employment Discrimination Against Older Australians and Australians with Disability report from Age and Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Susan Ryan.

We agree that we must do something to address the poor rates of employment participation of people with intellectual disability in Australia.

We call on the Commonwealth to develop a national strategy based on what works in collaboration with Inclusion Australia to lift the participation rate of people with intellectual disability.

Just 8% of adults with intellectual disability in receipt of national disability services work in the open labour market, despite decades of research and demonstration finding this group can successfully work in the open labour market when provided with the right support.

People with intellectual disability are currently subject to a system that underestimates their capacity to work, and fails to provide skilled providers across all regions.

The Commonwealth’s evaluation of Disability Employment Services found that:

Research and practice in the field has shown that with the right level and type of support, people with significant intellectual disability can achieve more substantial employment. After 30 years of open employment provision in Australia, it is clear what works and what doesn’t in achieving outcomes for people with intellectual disability. 

Our plan — provided to the Commonwealth in 2015 — is focused on building competent open employment support. This support is critical to raising expectations, engaging employers, achieving outcomes, and providing savings to the Commonwealth.

The Centre for International Economics has estimated that national evidence based open employment support for people with significant intellectual disability would save the Commonwealth up to $53 million per year.

Our plan calls for a new open employment program which exclusively targets jobseekers with disability that are NDIS eligible.  A new support system must presume a capacity to work in the open labour market and provide evidence based support to give the best opportunity to lift the current poor participation rates.

The Federal Budget 2016 did not offer any indexation to the immediate concerns about Disability Employment Services (DES) funding. There has been no Indexation of DES funding since 2010 and this is putting the the viability of evidence based open employment support for people with intellectual at risk. There was also no discussion or decision from the Budget about the Commonwealth’s plans to develop a new national disability employment system.

Inclusion Australia, in partnership with Down Syndrome Australia, will be writing to all political parties as part of the We Can Work With the Right Support Campaign, to begin a national discussion to find a way forward to develop a long term national plan to lift the employment participation rates of people with intellectual disability.

Media Statement

16.05.09 – HRC and Budget Response

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National Organisations applaud the Senate

National Peak Disability Consumer and Advocacy Organisations applaud the Senate vote to block the passing of the Business Services Wage Assessment Tool (BSWAT) Payment Scheme Bill 2014.

In blocking the Bill, the Senate has shown support for the human rights of people with disability to seek fair and full compensation for lost wages through the Federal Court.

We honour the courage of Michael Nojin, Gordon Prior, Tyson Duval-Comrie, with the support of their families, to stand up for their right as people with disability for just and equitable conditions of work.

Paul Cain of Inclusion Australia said “The Federal and High Courts of Australia determined that BSWAT discriminates against people with intellectual disability in the assessment of award wages”.

“Thousands of people with disability who work in Australian Disability Enterprises have been paid, and continue to be paid, wages less than they would be entitled to if they were paid under a fair and equitable award wage assessment system” said Samantha French of People with Disability Australia.

Kairsty Wilson of AED Legal Centre said “Rejection of the BSWAT Bill means that people with disability will maintain their right to legal redress for discrimination in employment and will have their full entitlement to back pay determined by the independence of the Federal Court”.

We are thankful for the political and moral leadership of the Hon. Jenny Macklin MP of the ALP; Senator Rachel Siewert and Adam Bandt MP of The Australian Greens, and Independent Senators Jacqui Lambie, Nick Xenophon, and John Madigan, as well as their advisors and staff who all saw the injustice and steadfastly voted against the Bill.

We acknowledge the work of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights chaired by Senator Dean Smith, which found that the BSWAT Payment Scheme Bill was not a just remedy for the discrimination ruled by the courts.

The National Peak Disability Consumer and Advocacy Sector calls on the Commonwealth to:

With all deliberate speed, negotiate a fair compensation settlement for workers with disability, who experienced discrimination and lost wages as a result of BSWAT, in response to the representative action in the Federal Court.

Commit to abolishing BSWAT and transition to the Supported Wage System (SWS) for all employees with disability in ADEs to ensure fairness and equity in the determination of award wages; and,

Consult with people with disability and their representative organisations on the best way to proceed with this transition and a full and fair settlement.

Media: Paul Cain, Inclusion Australia 0419 462 928 or Kairsty Wilson, AED Legal Centre 0411 252 410

Download the media release

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A big day for the rights of people with intellectual disability – part 2

To Whom It Should Concern – Part 2

An alarming concern of individuals, families, advocates and support staff is that reported abuse is frequently not properly investigated and addressed by the current system. Many complaints of abuse have not been addressed due to authorities not taking such complaints seriously and undertaking a full investigation.

We acknowledge that such investigations present a range of difficulties for investigators, but this should never be used a reason for failing to investigate and determine the merits of abuse complaints.

There is little doubt that a national inquiry into the abuse of people with disability in institutional settings has merit. It presents an opportunity for this dark issue to be brought out into the light. Organisations responsible for standards of service and the well being of people with disability for which they receive tax payer’s dollars should be held accountable for abuse that happens as a result of their service.

The media statement by the Disability Advocacy Network of Australia quite rightly emphasises the failure of mainstream governance and quality assurance mechanisms to protect the basic rights of people with significant disability. Governance processes, standards audits of services, internal complaint procedures, incident reports, and many other provider processes are important but clearly insufficient.

One of the most needed solutions is an abuse response system – external to disability service providers – that individuals, families, service staff, advocates or “whistleblowers” can bring complaints and concerns to, knowing that allegations of abuse WILL be investigated.

There needs to be confidence that someone with authority WILL actively investigate complaints of abuse.

Today’s refusal by the Federal Government to respond to calls from the community to hold a national inquiry into the abuse of people with disability – by relying on the Victorian government’s commitment to an inquiry – is a failure of national political leadership.

It begs the question as to how the federal government can expect organisations to provide support which prevents and eliminates abuse when the federal government shows a complete disregard for the urgency to act. This sends the wrong message to potential abusers.

What we need is a review of federal priorities. It only requires the change of one word . . “Stop the boats abuse”.

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A big day for the equal rights of people with intellectual disability – part 1

To Whom It Should Concern – Part 1

Monday 24th November 2014 has been a big day for standing up for the equal rights of people with intellectual disability.

First, the Senate rejected the Government’s bill to introduce the BSWAT Payment Scheme Bill. This Bill was an unjust remedy by the Government to address the discrimination in how the wages of thousands of people with intellectual disability in Australian Disability Enterprises (formerly sheltered workshops) are determined. A discrimination brought to light by two men with disability.

Second, the Australian Law Reform Commission proposed reform to Commonwealth and State laws to ensure that supported decision making is encouraged with the right support; and that representative decision-makers are appointed only as a last resort. The need to be supported in making decisions has never been more pertinent given the NDIS and the emphasis on choice and control.

Third, ABC 4 Corners exposed sexual abuses of people with disability by carers employed by Yooralla, and a governance culture that was inadequate to protect people with disability from this abuse.

The 4 Corners program highlight a number of characteristics of people with significant disability which are apparent. Characteristics that are under-recognised but common across the events of the day.

1. People with significant disability are vulnerable to abuse, neglect and discrimination . .  be it physical, sexual abuse or abuse of equal rights in employment.

2. People with significant disability are “easily led”. People with disability can be used and abused to meet the needs of others at the expense of their rights.

3. People with significant disability are sometimes unable to give valid consent – even after the best supported decision making support.

4. People with significant intellectual disability in segregated employment or accommodation services may have heightened vulnerability because “those who are watching” are just as vulnerable as the people targeted for abuse.

4. People with significant disability often have great difficulty in reporting abuse on their own.

When these “facts” or “characteristics” are considered carefully, there is a strong basis for accommodations and safeguards that are put in place rather than reliance on typical due processes or governance that may be acceptable in other circumstances.

For example, many employees with intellectual disability in ADEs are highly vulnerable to the interests of ADE staff and employers. Many employees in ADEs are easily led to vote for a certified agreement when valid consent is questionable.  It is not a coincidence that people with intellectual disability are subject to discriminatory employment practices in how award wages are assessed.

The Senate decision to reject the BSWAT Bill will ensure that the independence of the Federal Court will ensure that people with intellectual disability – discriminated by the Commonwealth and ADEs – are properly compensated. In other words, why would we let the “discriminator” determine the quantum of compensation and the process or redress. We must also note that some of the sexual abuse identified by 4 Corners involved employees in ADEs. This is not to suggest a juxtaposition between ADEs and abuse – but to point out that people with intellectual disability are vulnerable and this is vulnerability is heightened when grouped with others people with disability in segregated places.

We must also begin to recognise that Australia spends substantial amounts of money on disability support services – and this will only increase under the NDIS. As we saw in the 4 Corners report, there was evidence of “scamming” with clients that did not exist. I have also listened to families who are heavily marketed by disability services competing for the cash families bring to providers when they register for support. This means that – more than ever – advocacy and safeguards against abuse are important(!)

Unfortunately the “angelic” image of disability services is naive.

As 4 Corners point out, there are clearly service providers and staff who are impeccable in their competence and fidelity with the rights and dignity of people with intellectual disability. While addressing the very serious issues of abuse across all disability services we must support those services and staff who are doing ‘the right thing’.

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Minister Fifield must reward genuine effort not failure

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Real Businesses Pay Real Wages. 

Minister Fifield must reward genuine effort not failure. 

The announcement by Minister Fifield of an additional $173 million to support employees get fair wages in Australian Disability Enterprises (ADEs) is welcomed as a step forward by Inclusion Australia.

The announcement, however, does not resolve serious concerns about the treatment of employees with intellectual disability, nor the ongoing viability of ADEs.

We already have a productivity based wage assessment

The announcement fails to recognise that a fair productivity based award wage tool already exists – i.e. Supported Wage System (SWS).

The SWS is recognised by the industrial relations system; the Australian Human Rights Commission, the High and Federal Courts, people with disability and their representative organisations.

The only group to refuse to acknowledge the SWS has been National Disability Services (NDS) representing ADEs. A refusal without valid reason.

The question must be asked; why is Minister Fifield supporting the position of NDS when the evidence and support for the SWS is substantial? When is the Minister going to stand up for people with disabilities and not service providers with a history of discriminating against people with disabilities?

Our support for funding assistance is based on implementing the SWS

Inclusion Australia has repeatedly recognised that fair wages determined by SWS would increase wage costs for ADEs, and that the Commonwealth should provide temporary funding to assist ADEs make the transition.

It is concerning however that the Minister has agreed to pay this cost without requiring that wages are determined by the SWS.

The “future” productivity wage assessment tool being proposed is “unknown”. The refusal to accept the SWS opens the door for ADEs to argue for a wage assessment tool that once again unfairly discounts award wages. A risk which is not necessary.

 

Where is the funding for transition to work and open employment support services?

The Minister in the Australian (21/8/14) says that the government is committed to finding ways to increase employment opportunities for people with disability in the open workforce.

Where is the funding to support this commitment. There are thousands of young people with intellectual disability that can, with the right support, move from school to the open labour market. But specialist transition-to-work and open employment support is severely limited.

Inclusion Australia has proposed, based on current Australian best practise) the development of a national system of transition to work and open employment support for people with significant intellectual disability. What is needed is a funding commitment to make this happen.

The Minister must not reward failure or incompetence

The Minister must address the genuine efforts being made by ADEs under the ’10 Year Vision for Supported Employment’. ADEs that pay their employees using SWS must not be disadvantaged for doing the right thing.

For decades the Australian government has attempted to make a number of ADEs businesses by ‘throwing money’ at them. Today’s funding announcement must not be another exercise of propping up unviable businesses.

Inclusion Australia does not wish ADEs to close. Where ADEs are viable businesses paying real wages they must be supported to continue to provide employment to people with intellectual disability. Where ADEs are not viable the Commonwealth government must consider the option of those services becoming day services so that they can continue  to support people with disability.

The Australian government’s ’10 Year Vision for Supported Employment’ is now in its 3rd year. Inclusion Australia calls on Minister Fifield to release a progress report to demonstrate that this new funding will build on progress.

Real Businesses Pay Real Wages

Real Businesses Pay Real Wages – Wake Up! It’s a reality!

A response to Minister Mitch Fifield

Minister Fifield said in his article, Idealism threatens jobs for the disabled, that “accusations that ADEs exploit people with disability is unfair”.

The Federal and High Courts of Australia ruled that 10,000 employees with intellectual disability were disadvantaged by the use of the Business Services Wage Assessment Tool (BSWAT). What is unfair is the Commonwealth’s refusal to accept responsibility for this unfairness and pay fair compensation.

  • There are some ADEs that do pay employees with intellectual disability fair wages based on the Supported Wages System (SWS), and are not exploiting people with disability. 
  • There are employers in the open labour market that employ people with intellectual disability and pay full award wages or wages based on the SWS.
  • Fair wages for people with intellectual disability is a right and a reality. Disability discrimination is unlawful.
  • If some ADEs can pay fair wages based on the SWS and be viable, why can not all ADEs pay fair wages?
  • What is it about the ‘business structure’ of ADEs that they are unable or unwilling to pay fair wages?
  • If there are ADEs paying employees a fair wage using the SWS, why is there a need to develop a new system?

These are the questions that Minister Fifield fails to address in his article.

The application to the AHRC for an exemption to continue to use the unlawful BSWAT was made by the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth held consultations with people with disabilities, ADEs, and the advocacy sector. The AHRC also provided several months for people to provide submissions.

When the Australian Human Rights Commission asked for evidence that its decision would make ADEs unviable the AHRC reported that the evidence provided was limited and anecdotal. They made a reasonable determination that the Commonwealth and ADEs should change within a year.

Minister Andrews says that people with disability with capacity should work and reduce their dependence on the Disability Support Pension (DSP). Yet Minister Fifield says that we should see the pension as compensation for work.  Does this mean that the Minister is promoting ADEs as a “work for the pension” scheme? Is not dignity in work all about being paid fairly for work done? How can work be dignified if you are being discriminated?

There are people with disability in ADEs getting real wages, getting a reduced DSP, paying tax and accruing superannuation.

There are people with significant intellectual disability working in open employment on real wages, getting a reduced DSP, paying tax and accruing superannuation.

Minister Fifield,  not for the first time states, “there will always be some people with disability who won’t be able to participate in the open workforce”, and yet he also states, “we must stop limiting people by placing low expectations on them”.

The evidence is very clear that people with significant disability intellectual disability can work in jobs that pay real wages. Statements that place low expectations on the work outcomes for people with intellectual disability are discriminatory and at odds with the aims of Government policy and the NDIS.

The Coalition Government’s “commitment to increasing employment for people with disability in the open workforce” is fine rhetoric but where is the action? Inclusion Australia has set out a detailed submission to the Commonwealth government, based on current Australian best practice, on how to build such a system of support. We know what helps to get people with significant disability into the open workforce. Why is the Commonwealth not contracting for best practice?

Inclusion Australia wants the discrimination to stop (we do not want ADEs to close). We have a fair wage assessment tool in the SWS. We have also proposed that the Commonwealth fund ADEs to assist in making the transition to fair award wages using the SWS. Where transformation is not possible Minister Fifield must support ADEs to become community participation programs and work with real businesses to ensure that individuals with significant disability have real employment support options in the future.

Mark Pattison

Executive Director, Inclusion Australia

mark.pattison@inclusionaustralia.org.au

0407 406 647

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Response to Welfare Reform paper

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Inclusion Australia agrees that the income support system should have a stronger employment focus.
An income support system focused on evidence based employment support can significantly increase employment participation and reduce reliance on income support.

To achieve such change requires an examination of our understanding about capacity to work and employment support needs, and how this relates to achieving paid work which reduces pension reliance.

Current programs and policies are out of step with evidence based practice and are not providing youth with intellectual disability with the opportunity to be included in the open labour market.

Our biggest challenge, however, is to address a culture of low expectations about people with intellectual disability and work.
The current pathway of pension, unemployment and alternative programs needs to shift to a pathway of inclusion, work and wages in the open labour market.

To demonstrate this shift in direction, we feature the stories of two young people with significant intellectual disability and the pathway they took to move from school to paid employment in the open labour market.

These stories illustrate that people with intellectual disability have the capacity to work in the open labour market when provided skilled support. This quality support, however, is currently limited to just a few locations.

It is our submission that the welfare review should set a new direction to progressively build evidence based transition-to-work and open employment support on a national scale for people with intellectual disability.

It is possible to progressively change the current low expectations, low work participation and high reliance on the pension, to a culture where inclusion, work and wages is a common part of the lives of all people with intellectual disability.

Download Inclusion Australia’s full submission