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Media Release: Government shows commitment to most complex disability employment program

Mon, 14 May 2012, 04:48 PM

Sector raises concerns over wide-scale open tender and lack of indexation

Media Release, Disability Employment Australia, 14 May 2012

The decision by the Federal Government to lengthen contracts servicing the most disadvantaged disability employment cohort is an excellent outcome for people with disability.

Minister Kate Ellis MP announced today that Employment Support Services (ESS) contracts provided by Disability Employment Services (DES) would be extended from three years to five years.

Lynette May, CEO of Disability Employment Australia welcomed the news, “This is an admirable decision by the Minister. It will have a tangible impact on over 74,000 people with significant and enduring disability looking for, or in, open employment.”

“The additional two years will allow DES providers to maintain supportive relationships with employers and most importantly with people with disability.”

Ms May explained, “This is a vital step forward in fully recognising Australia’s commitment to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

“Australia’s record on disability employment is very poor, ranking just 21 out of 29 by OECD standards in terms of participation rates. Any decision that improves the stability of the sector and creates the opportunity for more sustainable outcomes is to be applauded.”

The new contract period will commence in March 2013, and run through until March 2018. This extended timeframe will significantly reduce the program’s administration burden.

Ms May explained, "By pushing out the frequency of tendering, it will save tens of millions of taxpayer dollars, and dramatically reduce sector distraction and loss of productivity.”  

“In addition, this new timeframe creates the stable environment needed to allow Disability Employment Australia to work alongside the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) taskforce, to ensure that DES-ESS is appropriate and relevant for people with disability.

Ms May cautioned, “We continue to advocate for the urgent indexation of fees both now, and during the lifetime of the contract.”

The decision to extend the contract term can be attributed to the push by Disability Employment Australia, and the disability employment services sector to postpone and reduce the number of providers put up for open tender.

As a result of this campaign a Senate Inquiry, supported by Greens Senator, Rachel Siewert, and Disability Employment Australia, made a number of recommendations to the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR). This included a five year contract period.

Ms May echoed the concerns of the sector, “However, notwithstanding this fantastic achievement, it is highly disappointing to see that the DES-ESS tender will still go ahead within the planned timeframe and will effect 80% of contracts. This equates to almost 60,000 people with disability and over 21,000 employers impacted by the destabilisation of wide-scale tendering.

“While we acknowledge that open tenders are the current procurement method of choice, the DES-ESS program and its performance framework require significant review before a tender process will result in an improved level of service and sustainable job outcomes for people with disability.”

Government Media Release: http://ministers.deewr.gov.au/shorten/delivering-quality-and-stable-employment-services-people-disability

Interviews available via Disability Employment Australia CEO, Lynette May on 03 8676 0353 or 0425 725 137.

About Disability Employment Australia: Disability Employment Australia is the peak body for Australia's Disability Employment Services (DES). There are over 200 DES organisations with more than 2000 outlets across Australia. DES providers are both private and not-for-profit. One in five Australians of working age have a disability, but only 53% participate in the workforce compared with 81% for people without a disability. Australia’s DES currently assist approximately 140,000 individuals with disability gain and maintain meaningful employment in the open labour market. Disability Employment Australia represents these organisations to government and the broader community – nationally and internationally. www.disabilityemployment.org.au

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Additional information:

UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Article 27 - Work and employment

States Parties recognize the right of persons with disabilities to work, on an equal basis with others; this includes the right to the opportunity to gain a living by work freely chosen or accepted in a labour market and work environment that is open, inclusive and accessible to persons with disabilities. States Parties shall safeguard and promote the realization of the right to work, including for those who acquire a disability during the course of employment, by taking appropriate steps, including through legislation.

Download: the media release (PDF)

Disability Employment Australia sources and promotes articles and information that we deem relevant and interesting for our members. The views represented in the news items are the authors and not necessarily that of Disability Employment Australia. Disability Employment Australia claims no authorship or ownership over the articles and does not gain financially from their promotion.

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