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Welfare reform will succeed with the right employment support

 Welfare reform will succeed with high expectations and the right employment support!

Minister Morrison makes three points we can agree with;

  • “the best form of welfare is a job
  • the biggest welfare savings are driven by getting people into work
  • the NZ investment model uses actuarial evaluations to identify which risk factors drive long term welfare dependency and outlays, and what are amenable to early effective intervention”

Getting a job is good. Good for the individual and the federal budget. Investment in support that works is value for money.

Inclusion Australia presented two case studies of evidence based practice to the consultation — Audrey and David. These show that with the right right support, it is possible to get a job and reduce reliance on the pension. (Inclusion Australia’s submission to McClure Review)

Audrey and David are, however unique. Their provider is the only evidence based transition and open employment provider for people with significant intellectual disability — operating in Sydney and part of Melbourne. Their jobs were created by combining their strengths with the needs of employers — i.e. not jobs advertised by employers.

Audrey and David save the Commonwealth $15,906 annually (Table 1). Put in context, only 2.5% of all DS Pensioners earn more than $250 per week. The potential annual savings of providing the right support to 100,000 DSP recipients with intellectual & learning disability is between $0 and $1.6 Billion.

The Productivity Commission noted that effective transition support could save the Commonwealth considerable funds currently spent on more expensive non-work and supported employment options.

The Centre for International Economics (Table 2) found that the annual cost to the taxpayer (after pension offsets) for evidence based open employment was $4,206 per annum and this was far cheaper than alternate supported employment ($12,908) and state government programs ($17,667 – $23,884).

Changing to an evidence based system of support will require investment to develop this capacity. Inclusion Australia will be presenting a report to the Government and the National Disability Insurance Agency on building a national sector of evidence based transition and open employment support for all people with intellectual disability.

For people with intellectual disability, the best form of welfare is getting the right support to get a job.

Enquiries: Paul Cain,

0419 462 928,


MC report tables

Note Table 1: Figures based on DSP figures for adults 21 and over rates as at 20 September 2014.

Notes Table 2:

  1.  Most recent wages available for ADE are for 30/6/2008. Wage indexed to 30/6/2013 using minimum wage movements.

  2.  CBF funding and wage subsidy for 2012/13 year divided by the number of DES-ESS clients on 30/6/2013.

  3.  Pension offsets based on the March-June 2013 means test of $0.50 per dollar of earnings above $76 per week.

fair pay

Variation of Supported Employment Services Award — Update

United Voice, Health Services Union and National Peak Disability and Advocacy Organisations — Communique, Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Variation of Supported Employment Services Award — Update

On 23rd December 2013, United Voice and the Health Services Union made a joint application to the Fair Work Commission to vary the Supported Employment Services Award 2010.

This Award covers employees with disability working in Australian Disability Enterprises (ADEs, formerly known as Sheltered Workshops).

The application was made following the decision by the Full Federal Court in Nojin v Commonwealth which found that the Business Services Wage Assessment Tool used to determine wages unfairly discriminated against workers with intellectual disability.

The application also seeks to deal with the extent to which other Wage Assessment Tools listed in the Award are discriminatory against workers with disabilities.

On 20 June 2014 the full bench of the Fair Work Commission decided that in an effort to find a solution that there be a Conference of the parties led by Deputy President Booth.

There has been a series of meetings held at the Fair Work Commission since 1 September 2014. Conference proceedings are conducted as a confidential process and without prejudice basis.

On 16 February 2015 the parties agreed to conduct a study using the Supported Wage System with modification in a sample of ADEs. This will consider the impact of using historical productivity data on the productivity wage assessment rates of workers with disability. The parties will discuss the results of this study at the next scheduled meeting on Monday 27 April 2015.

For enquiries: Contact Leigh Svendsen, National Industrial Officer, Health Service Union, 02 8203 6066;


National Peak Disability and Advocacy Groups supporting the joint application and parties at the conference include — AED Legal Centre; Inclusion Australia (formerly the National Council on Intellectual Disability); and People with Disability Australia.


IA supports a national inquiry into abuse

We have to Do Something about Abuse. Now.

Inclusion Australia (formerly the National Council on Intellectual Disability) supports a national inquiry by the Australian Senate into abuse, violence and neglect against people with disability.

Inclusion Australia welcomes the moral leadership of Senator Siewert and the Australian Greens by calling for a national inquiry by the Commonwealth Parliament about the ongoing abuse of people with disability.

“Excuse me, just get off your backsides.
Do something about it.” (Craig McDonald, 4Corners).

Inclusion Australia president, Kevin Stone, publicly called for a national inquiry into the quality of disability services on September 13, 2012 following revelations of widespread abuse of people with disability on the ABC Lateline program.

Kevin Stone said, “People with intellectual disability are often fearful of challenging decisions or asserting themselves – often with good reason. They frequently experience a range of negative consequences for speaking up – ranging from paternalism and condescension to oppression and abuse.

A national inquiry will give all people with disability, their families, advocates and others the opportunity to have their say on how they are being treated and what should be done to address violence, abuse and neglect in the national disability service system, and in the wider community.”

“And it is still happening to other people –
and it should not be.” (Jules Anderson, 4Corners)

The ABC 4Corners report in late 2014 further revealed the vulnerability of people with disability to abuse and the inadequacy of State and Commonwealth disability service systems’ capacity to address serious breaches of basic human rights.

People with intellectual disability are our children, our sons and daughters, our brothers and sisters, our friends and colleagues. Violence, abuse and neglect are not acceptable under any circumstance.

Disability service providers and their staff should be exemplary in providing support which upholds the basic human dignity and rights of people with disability. This is not currently the case and we must work together to do something about it.

Inclusion Australia welcomes the investigation by the Victorian Ombudsman into how allegations of abuse in the disability sector are reported and investigated, and also the promised investigation by the Victorian government. We also welcome the initiative by the National Disability Insurance Agency to develop a strategy of safeguards for people with disability participating in the NDIS.

We do need, however, a national response that can address the issues of violence, abuse and neglect that cut across State, Territory, and Commonwealth jurisdiction lines, disability service provision lines, and the Australian community at large.

A national inquiry will need to provide a new direction and address a range of much needed reform including;

  • Staff Screening, Training and Accreditation;
  • Service Standards and Monitoring;
  • Mandatory reporting of violence, abuse or neglect;
  • A skilled response by authorities to reports of violence, abuse and neglect; and,
  • Protections for service provider staff or whistleblowers who report abuse.

 Download media release

everyone matters

Our Voice Matters

Inclusion Australia responds to DSS $1.5m cut to support and services for people with intellectual Inclusion Australia - Logo Icondisability.  

Inclusion Australia (NCID) is the peak body for people with intellectual disability and their families. Inclusion Australia has represented people with intellectual disability for over 60 years with the support of thousands of people and organisations.

In December last year the Department of Social Services decided that the specific voice of people with intellectual disability and their families is not important. Rather, they have decided that people with intellectual disability and their families can be represented by people without disabilities or by people who have a physical or sensory disability. The Board of Inclusion Australia deplores this decision as we believe it will deny people with intellectual disability and their families the opportunity to inform and shape the direction of disability policy and supports, including the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

People with intellectual disability comprise 60-70% of NDIS participants and are the third largest group receiving the DSP. Recent reports have highlighted the need for NDIS to engage with people with intellectual disability and their families to better reflect their needs. As a result, NDIS has agreed to meet with Inclusion Australia on a regular basis to provide that engagement – a measure which is now in jeopardy due to the DSS decision. In the absence of Inclusion Australia, this decision has silenced the collective voice of people with intellectual disability – those most in need of representation at the highest level given their historical marginalisation.

By silencing the voice of the national peak body,the Department of Social Services is removing the opportunity for people with intellectual disability and their families to ensure their needs and interests are adequately considered and safeguarded,  Over many years, Inclusion Australia has effectively advocated on such issues as:

  • the need for increased funding
  • the need for increased employment support
  • the right to better pay and conditions for intellectual disability employees
  • the right to support for inclusive education
  • the need for adequate income support
  • the right to live in the community
  • the need for better housing and support
  • the right to self-management of funding
  • the need to end abuse and bullying, and
  • the need for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)

The Department’s decision to defund Inclusion Australia sits alongside their decision to abandon funding to all other peak disability population groups cutting services and support to people with disability by $1.5 million. With the Abbott Government’s ambitious welfare reform agenda and the rollout of the NDIS, now is not the time for the Department of Social Services to be silencing the very voices they need to be hearing from.

People with intellectual disability want to work, to get more money, to do things in their community. But, if we do not have our own say how can we be part of it? Why does the government not want to hear from us?” Judy Huett, Chairperson of Our Voice (self advocacy committee of Inclusion Australia’s Board)

Inclusion Australia calls on the Abbott Government to review this retrograde decision of the Department of Social Services that breaches the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. The Convention recognises people with intellectual disability as a distinct disability population and also stresses the obligation to involve people with a significant disability in the monitoring of the Convention and the development of government policy and its implementation.

”Inclusion Australia has been at the forefront of helping to define the need for the National Disability Strategy and the NDIS,” states Kevin Stone, Inclusion Australia President, ”The success of the NDIS for people with intellectual disability depends on us being there to shape the design and support the implementation. Without the strong representation of our national peak, the specific needs and interests of people with intellectual disability and their families will be overlooked, every time.’’

Show your support on: #ourvoicematters

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Grandstanding is not Advocacy

Grandstanding is not advocacy! Creating fear and uncertainty where certainty exists is not a responsible position by an advocacy organisation. Recently commentary on overseas travel by people on the DSP has been sensational instead of accurate.

Inclusion Australia and Minister Andrews went to considerable trouble last November to clarify the position of people with intellectual disability in relation to overseas travel. People who are on the DSP due to a ‘manifest’ condition are able to travel overseas for any period of time, they are not restricted to 4 weeks. People with intellectual disability (IQ score <70) have a ‘manifest’ condition.

The failure to clearly state the real position for all people with disability has created unnecessary confusion and anxiety for people with intellectual disability and their families. This is not acceptable.

The joint information sheet by Minister Andrews and Inclusion Australia can be read here

Inclusion Australia - Logo Icon

Inclusion Australia is here to stay …

Dear Members and Friends,

over the last couple of days there has been a lot of conjecture about the future of Inclusion Australia following our unsuccessful application for funding to the Abbott Government. Our application for funding to represent people with intellectual disability and their families to the Commonwealth Government was not successful – no applications on behalf of people with intellectual disability and their families were!

Minister Andrews, in his previous capacity as Minister for Social Services, decided that the voice of people with intellectual disability and their families has no value; despite people with intellectual disability being 70% of NDIS participants and the third largest group in receipt of the DSP. His decision is clearly at odds with the Prime Minister’s stated aim of including all Australians in the social and economic life of their communities; and importantly increasing the number of people on DSP in the workforce.

Inclusion Australia has always been a constructive partner in the development and implementation of Commonwealth policy and while this decision is disappointing it will not silence us from ‘having a say’ in the welfare reforms that will dominate 2015 and ongoing development of the NDIS.

Inclusion Australia has a strong membership base of over 5,000 and though the Commonwealth funding would enable us to have more constructive contact with them, we are not dependent on this funding and will continue to work with people with intellectual disability and their families and represent their best interests.

Kevin Stone – President

Mark Pattison – Executive Director

Read media release from Australian Federation of Disability Consumer Organisations (AFDO)

Old sheltered workshop

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