Australian Disabled Employment Services

Written By Alla Levin
May 16, 2024
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Australian Disabled Employment ServicesKEY POINTS

  • Historical Progress and Reforms: Since the 1950s, Australia’s disabled employment services have evolved significantly, from sheltered workshops to comprehensive support systems like the Australian Disabilities Enterprises (ADE). Government acts, funding, and quality assurance systems have aimed to enhance training, development, and self-sufficiency for disabled individuals.
  • Current Employment and Economic Impact: Despite the systems in place, the employment rate for disabled Australians has drastically decreased, causing significant economic loss. Increasing disability employment by just 10% could boost the GDP by $AU 16 billion, highlighting the need for urgent reform and better implementation of existing programs.
  • Private Sector’s Role and Benefits: Private industry can play a crucial role in improving disabled employment by leveraging their efficiency and social responsibility. Benefits include increased productivity, morale, and loyalty, as well as reduced absenteeism and OHS claims. Engaging private businesses alongside government regulation can create a more inclusive and effective employment system for disabled individuals.

Brief History

The sheltered workshops of the 1950s were started by parents of disabled children who wanted to guarantee a higher life fulfillment for them.  There was little acceptance due to low understanding.

In the late 60s, the Commonwealth Sheltered Employment Assistance Act established funding and access for capital works projects employing disabled workers. It also created sheltered workshops and accommodation with support services.

A decade later, national funding bolstered therapy centers, and the personal development of persons with disability was moved to the front of care. Self-sufficiency and independence were the targets.

The sheltered workshops were renamed in the mid-80s. The government approved the DSA or Disabilities Services Act, which included mainstream employers’ funding to employ disabled people in business services.

The 90s introduced more reforms and funding for enhanced training, development, and standard of living for disabled people.  An independent quality assurance system was also introduced to keep standards clear for retaining accreditation for government funding, thereby increasing protection from abuse.

Disability employment services recruitment agency began to form in the early 2000s.

More Recently

Systems were repackaged in 2009 into the ADE, Australian Disabilities Enterprises. The 193 groups offer employment and training options nationally to provide satisfying employment in.

Hospitality, Cleaning, Agriculture, Packaging, Distribution, Manufacturing, Light Engineering, Landscaping, Recycling, Furniture Manufacturing, Vehicle Detailing, etc.  Vocational skills, work preparation, safety awareness, and accredited traineeships were all developed.

The disabled employment rate has decreased from 81.8% to 53.1%. That is a hit of almost $AU 50 Billion per year.  An increase of only 10% in disability employment rate would result in a GDP swell of $AU 16 Billion.

That would pay for the entire Seadragon and Star of the South Offshore Windfarm projects each year.  If fiscal irresponsibility is accepted by governing bodies of such magnitude, how can it be enforced upon businesses?

The resulting devastation to the health, well-being, and life satisfaction of thousands of disabled Australians should motivate change to demonstrate humanity. What has happened is quite different.

Superannuation pays a super-contribution of 11% to all adults. Yet offers 9.5% to more than one million (between 18-64) disabled adults. The latest update to the superannuation rate has a target of 12% by 2025. Here are some tips for studying an MBA course.

Who can help leave a better legacy?

We need to look to private solutions. Generally speaking, private industry is more efficient financially, but more importantly, they care about the disabled workers’ life results as it will be of benefit. They have a social responsibility for their growth today. Let alone the investment into their workforce.

These agencies are doing some of the work already. They understand “a person’s disability doesn’t change their ability to do the right job.” (At Work Australia, 2003) 21 years ago, they understood this.

Employers can help themselves by getting educated on the benefits of employing disabled workers;

  • Increased productivity, morale, workplace positivity, and reduced absenteeism;
  • Disabled people have had to overcome barriers in their everyday life. Their problem-solving skills are next-level;
  • OHS claims are -600% against non-disabled workers;
  • Disabled staff are loyal, and turnover is significantly lower;
  • Disabled employees take fewer sick days. This is another result of living with issues beyond a bothersome sniffle;
  • It is difficult to complain when disabled staff are in the workplace. How unimportant are your problems in comparison? The result is a more positive environment;
  • Disabled people have a more positive attitude and a better work ethos.

72% of Australians, when asked, said they felt sorry for disabled people and wanted to support them more.

Yet Australia is ranked 38th of 38 OECD countries for relative disabled income. (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) Those two numbers are in stark contrast to each other.

The will of the people is to do more for disabled citizens. Government and industry do not appear to share that sentiment.

Large problems have solutions.  Rarely are they easy or without cost. Rarely are they successful if they include only one avenue of approach.

A kaleidoscope of systems collaborating toward a mutual destination for the benefit of a better legacy can solve this.

It will take heart. It will take private businesses such as mainstream employers and investors to make the plan efficient and effective. A plan will need to include the government for regulation and oversight. For now, they should hold off on new laws until we can be sure what is written already is being followed.

“Government oversight” can be a paradox, especially when their program has cost 9.5 Billion and failed.

Here is a link to the NDIS website, where you can find more information.

Australian disabled employment services

This will need to be led by compassion and finished with urgent determination. To design a plan and not include the people the plan will benefit demonstrates a complete lack of empathy.

People who do not have disabilities can never understand the disability or accompanying needs as well as those living it.

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