NDIS Plans Should have a ‘Work-First Approach’
6 June 2017 at 8:28 am
In light of new figures from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, NDIS planners need to incorporate “a work-first approach”, the nation’s peak body for disability providers has said.
The latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, released Monday, show in 2015 there was a 3 per cent decrease in the number of people with a disability participating in the workforce compared to 2003.
National Disability Services CEO Ken Baker said the figures were “disappointing” and it was “even more disappointing” that the employment rate of people with severe or profound disability fell over that period by 13 per cent.
“We know from other data that the Disability Support Pension population is falling (it peaked in June 2012 and has since fallen by 55,000 people), but the employment rate appears not be rising, suggesting that people with disability are being diverted from one form of income support to another, rather than into work. This is not a good result for anyone,” Baker said.
Baker said most people with a disability wanted to work and while there were no simple solutions “much more could be done”.
He called on NDIS planners to “take a work-first approach to encourage participants”.
“Too few NDIS participants have employment support in their NDIS plan – only 6 per cent of 15 to 24 year olds and 2 per cent of people 25 and over,” he said.
Baker said there were many areas where the government could take a proactive approach.
Speaking on behalf of the nation’s peak body for disability providers he called on the government to increase purchasing from Disability Enterprises, which employ 21,000 Australians with severe disability.
Baker said the proposed reforms to the Disability Employment Services (DES) announced in the 2017 Budget needed to be “carefully implemented” to ensure they had “the financial resources and flexibility to respond to the needs and preferences of job seekers with disability”.
He also encouraged employers to employ people with disability.
“The Australian Public Service could lead by example, but it’s not doing so at present. Only 3.7 per cent of APS employees have a disability,” Baker said.
Baker said it was important to connect young people up with work opportunities before they left school.
“School students with disability are not getting opportunities for work experience and after-school jobs, like other students. They should have earlier access to support services to enable this to happen,” Baker said.
The Disability in Australia: Changes Over Time in Inclusion and Participation in Employment factsheet was released in conjunction with two other fact sheets covering community living and education.
The community living fact sheet found one in three people with a disability between the ages of 15 to 64 did not go out as often as they would have liked and around two in five had avoided community situations in the previous 12 months because of their disability.
The education fact sheet said there was a shift towards attending special schools and away from attending special classes in mainstream schools and that people with disability continued to have lower levels of educational attainment than those without disability.