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20 Recommendations for Government - Disability Employment Australia policy positions

Wed, 28 Aug 2013, 03:37 PM

Disability Employment Australia, 28 August 2013

Real Work, Real Pay and Real Careers

Australia must raise its expectations of what people with disability can achieve.

People with disability are unfairly excluded from employment in Australia. There is a wide gap in labour force participation between those with disability (53%) and without disability (83%).

People with disability represent 15% of the working age population, but hold only 10% of the jobs

20,000 people, mostly with intellectual disability, work in sheltered settings at Australian Disability Enterprises (ADEs), yet evidence shows a higher quality of life for those working in open employment.

Supported open employment, provided through Disability Employment Services (DES), focusses on individual strengths, choices and award wages.  There are no waiting lists, and ongoing support at work is available for as long as it is required.

Real work is a critical element to raise the quality of life not just for individuals, but also for Australia.

Deloitte’s estimates a $43 billion increase to GDP over a decade if the participation rate increased by one-third.

20 Recommendations for Government

Promote Open Employment First

  1. Open supported employment must be the first option, and attract the bulk of government funding.
  2. DisabilityCare Australia (the NDIS) must ensure people have the aspirations and preparedness to participate in real work, earn real wages and progress their careers.
  3. Accelerate the transition from traditional sheltered businesses (ADEs) to inclusive social firm models.
  4. Provide consumer peaks with ongoing funding to support employment policy advocacy.

Position Disability Employment Services

  1. Retain the specialist mainstream open employment program for people with disability (DES). Index fees to reflect the real cost of service delivery.
  2. Extend DMS contracts in line with ESS to 2018. Merge the two DES programs into one with two levels of funding to simplify assessment referrals, contract management and administration.
  3. Explore alternatives to competitive tendering.
  4. Reduce red tape by removing the requirement for DSP recipients to have an assessment before accessing DES.
  5. Enable ADE clients to access DES to facilitate transition to open employment.
  6. Remove the 0 – 7 ‘unlikely to benefit’ rule from the ineligibility criteria for DES services.
  7. Reconsider the 50% market share of the government-owned DES-DMS provider.
  8. Invest in innovation, research and sharing best practice by investigating the implementation of Centres of Excellence by disability types.
  9. Invest in building a skilled and qualified DES workforce for the future.

Support Businesses

  1. Increase place-based, employer-led job creation initiatives.
  2. Continue the Wage Connect Subsidy and the JobAccess Initiative.
  3. Only 3% of employers turn to DES when recruiting. Rebrand the program and remove the disability label: Supported Open Employment.

Act Affirmatively

  1. Attitudes towards disability must change for the better. Invest in a nationwide public attitude setting campaign.
  2. Reinvigorate the National Disability Strategy, and improve its governance framework to ensure states act on commitments.
  3. Set a national target to include 200,000 more people with disability in the labour force by 2023.


  4. Introduce affirmative action policies to create merit-based cadetship and traineeship opportunities for students and graduates with self-identified disability to enter the Australian Public Service.

Download: Improving Australia’s Disability Employment Performance - 20 Recommendations for Government  (August 2013, PDF)

What can you do?

  • Download our 20 Recommendations for Government
  • Present the recommendations to your local constituant
  • Explain the importance of improving Australia's disability employment performance
  • Maintain pressure in the first 100 days of government
  • Use the policy recommendations to inform all levels of government - local, state and federal.

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  • Frances Wiliams on Thu, 29 Aug 2013, 02:11 PM:

    Have you also considered the fact that the current DES contract is in direct conflict with the Disability Service Standards? Also the emphasis is on the dollar and not on the individual client.

  • Lynette May - CEO Disability Employment Australia on Thu, 29 Aug 2013, 02:43 PM:

    Hi Frances thanks for engaging I will attempt to respond. DEA is well aware that some of the current DEEWR guidelines and system drivers do make it difficult for a DES provider to adhere to the full intent of the DSS and always have it front of mind when we provide feedback to DEEWR and members of parliament when in discussions.

    This paper does not go into all the specific issues we have with the design and administration of the DES program, there are many and most are quite technical. I have tried to look broader than just DES and identified a number of things impacting on people with disability being given the opportunity to participate in open employment. I take your points on board, DEA is an advocate for placing the individual back in the centre of the program we also believe the employer needs to be there as well. Without employers opening their doors there will be no jobs regardless of how hard and person centred the DES provider is. There needs to be a call to action of the broader community to engage with this issue, then we may see a program that is designed differently.

  • rachel cooper on Mon, 09 Sep 2013, 08:06 PM:

    I would have found it helpful if the abbreviations all had explanations, or links to a glossary.

  • Sue EGan on Mon, 16 Sep 2013, 12:10 PM:

    thanks for this

  • Trevor Paterson on Thu, 19 Sep 2013, 11:22 AM:

    Remove post code restrictions for direct registrations it should be consumer choice who they wish to use