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Industry Paper Outlines DES Reform

3 July 2017 at 8:52 am
Wendy Williams
A new industry information paper has been released by the Australian government outlining the future arrangements for the Disability Employment Services (DES) program.

Wendy Williams | 3 July 2017 at 8:52 am


Industry Paper Outlines DES Reform
3 July 2017 at 8:52 am

A new industry information paper has been released by the Australian government outlining the future arrangements for the Disability Employment Services (DES) program.

In this year’s federal budget, the Australian government announced reforms to the DES program which will roll out from 1 July 2018 including a revised funding model and the establishment of a new panel of providers.

The latest paper discusses the process that will be followed to establish the new panel, including the need for all interested organisations to lodge a Registration of Interest (ROI), managed by the Community Grants Hub, if they wish to be considered to deliver DES in the future.

Minister for Social Services Christian Porter said the latest paper was the “next step” in implementing the government’s $3 billion plan over the next four years “to strengthen DES”.

“I want to ensure a smooth transition from the current arrangements to the new DES program, and to provide certainty and clarity for the sector,” Porter said.

“We are continuing current provider contracts to 30 June 2018 and ensuring a new DES provider panel is in place to support jobseekers and employers from 1 July 2018.

“The industry paper is essential reading for current providers and for organisations that would like to apply to deliver DES.”

According to the paper the labour force participation rates for people with disability have remained stagnant for the past 20 years, at around 53 per cent, compared to 83 per cent for people without disability.

In a bid to address some of the issues and improve DES performance a number of key changes are set to be implemented from 1 July 2018 including:

  • improving choice and control for participants
  • generating greater competition and contestability between providers  
  • improving financial incentives for providers through a new risk-adjusted funding model designed to reward providers commensurate to the difficulty in placing the participant into sustainable employment  
  • indexing DES payments to maintain their real value.

According to the paper, under the new DES program, market share arrangements will be removed, which means DES providers will need to attract job seekers to their organisation, “rather than relying on a percentage of eligible job seekers being referred to them by Centrelink”.

Providers will need to attract business by “developing a desirable and reputable service”, and establishing a proven record for effective service delivery within their ESA(s).

The Industry Information Paper also outlined a two-stage grant application process for organisations considering delivering DES from 1 July 2018.

The first stage will be a non-competitive ROI process, while the second stage will invite organisations who registered their interest to apply to join the panel of DES providers through a restricted non-competitive grant application process that will be open for six weeks.

Assistant minister for disability services Jane Prentice said existing providers may be offered an “invitation to treat” after they have registered their interest.

“Making it easier for existing providers that are already delivering services to an acceptable standard to continue, will help stabilise the DES market and provide continuity for job seekers and employers,” Prentice said.

“The industry information paper also outlines the revised funding model for DES providers, offering stronger incentives for them to achieve sustainable employment outcomes for participants that may require more support than others.

“In addition, the government will provide more than $300 million over the next 10 years to index funding to DES.”

As well as the paper, a series of information sessions will be conducted during June and July 2017, across Australia and online, to allow interested parties to ask questions about the new arrangements.

For more information see here.

Wendy Williams  |  Editor  |  @WendyAnWilliams

Wendy Williams is a journalist specialising in the not-for-profit sector and broader social economy. She has been the editor of Pro Bono News since 2018.

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