Disability Peak Bodies Meet with Welfare Reviewer
23 January 2014 at 9:07 am
Disability peak bodies have told the reviewer leading the probe into Australia’s social welfare system that workforce participation and meaningful jobs with award wages for people with disability must be made an immediate priority.
The Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO), a national organisation funded by the Government to represent the voice of people with disability in Australia, and the National Council on Intellectual Disability (NCID) met with welfare reviewer Patrick McClure and Federal Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews’ Chief of Staff to talk on the review of the Disability Support Pension (DSP) and Newstart.
According to AFDO, the bodies strongly recommended that reform of the welfare system must be met with parallel systemic reforms which support real jobs for real wages in open employment, not in sheltered workshops (Australian Disability Enterprises).
AFDO Acting Chief Executive Officer Stephen Gianni recommended that “any review of the DSP must place workforce participation and meaningful jobs with award wages for people with disability as an immediate priority”.
“The employment services system in Australia that is supposed to focus on getting people with disability into work is broken. In light of the Government’s commitment to the NDIS, the Government should be positioning the workforce participation of people with disability as part of the broader agenda to address skill shortages and increase productivity, rather than view this as a side project. Jobs and workforce participation for people with disability must be our next major social reform in Australia,” Gianni said.
“We need to be investing in a new employment model that has employers and people with disability at the centre to address the woeful participation rate of people with disability in the workforce.
“The vast majority of people with disability can and want to work. The Australian Government needs to partner with Disabled People’s Organisations and employers to redesign the system so that it delivers for all of us. People with disability are important contributors to the Australian economy – support to increase our participation must not be seen as a cost but as an investment in our role as full citizens in Australia.”
AFDO said people with disability were up for the opportunity to work and have called on the Government to provide a more co-ordinated approach in its own structures.
“We have four portfolios led by five Ministers and the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council (just to name a few) all engaging with income security and employment strategies for Australia. We need a more co-ordinated government approach to bring all of these parts together to work in a more streamlined way to support people to obtain work,” Gianni said.
“In addition reforming the DSP without thinking about ‘corporate welfare’ is one sided and not in itself going to increase our workforce participation.
"When Government provides corporate subsidies it can and does ask that jobs are generated, now it needs to say that these jobs must include people with disability.”