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Australians Encouraged To Have Their Say on Future of Supported Employment

8 December 2017 at 2:46 pm
Luke Michael
People with disability and those involved in the disability and employment sectors have been encouraged to have their say on the future of supported employment, with the release of a government discussion paper.

Luke Michael | 8 December 2017 at 2:46 pm


Australians Encouraged To Have Their Say on Future of Supported Employment
8 December 2017 at 2:46 pm

People with disability and those involved in the disability and employment sectors have been encouraged to have their say on the future of supported employment, with the release of a government discussion paper.

The discussion paper, Ensuring A Strong Future For Supported Employment, poses questions to facilitate discussion around three core policy areas:  

  • strategies to support employment participation for people with disability;
  • strategies to provide effective employment opportunities by employers and providers; and
  • strategies to strengthen the role of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) to enable employees to reach their employment goals.

Minister for Social Services Christian Porter said he wanted to ensure future government policy allowed for supported employment, and met Australia’s commitment to promote the rights and ability for persons with disabilities to work.

“Supported employment plays a vital role in improving the social and economic participation of many people with disability in Australia,” Porter said.

“The Turnbull government is committed to ensuring Australian Disability Enterprises (ADEs) are strong and viable businesses, so they can continue to provide effective employment outcomes for Australia’s 20,000 workers currently in supported employment, as well as those who wish to join the workforce in the future.

“This commitment includes more than $220 million in annual funding for supported employees accessing employment supports and $180 million in additional funding for the ADEs to adjust to new wage arrangements for supported employees and transition to the NDIS. The rollout of the NDIS to full scheme presents opportunities to expand, diversify and strengthen the supported employment sector.”

Assistant Minister for Social Services and Disability Services Jane Prentice said this discussion paper allowed stakeholders a chance to engage with the government and inform a future supported employment policy.

“It is critical we hear from those working in and running ADEs. We also want to hear from employees’ families and carers, and the disability sector to inform the policy development for supported employment. We want to ensure more people with disability achieve their employment goals,” Prentice said.

“The government has extended Disability Employment Assistance for eligible ADEs for up to two years to support ongoing service provision to ensure ADE businesses can thrive in the new environment with the NDIS.”

Porter added: “A greater quality of life is enjoyed by people who have their own discretionary income from participating in supported employment. People have greater choice and control over the support options they access under the NDIS. The government expects the number of NDIS participants with employment supports included in their NDIS plan will grow in the future.

“We look forward to consulting people with disability, their families and carers and employers and the broader sector to strengthen the future of supported employment.”

In 2016-17, the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) reported that only 16 per cent of NDIS participants aged 15 to 24 years and 26 per cent of NDIS participants aged over 25 were in paid employment.

The discussion paper noted that there was scope for these figures to rise in the future.

“According to the Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (SDAC), in 2015 there were over 2.1 million Australians with disability of working age. Of this group, only 53.4 per cent were in the workforce or actively seeking work, compared to 83.2 per cent for people with no disability,” the paper said.

“Furthermore, only 25 per cent of people with a profound or severe core activity limitation were active participants in the labour market. This means that over a million Australians of working age with disability were outside the workforce and there is significant scope to support more people with disability into employment.”

The discussion paper also noted that labour force participation rates for those with disability had remained largely unchanged over the past 20 years, and it encouraged people to have their say on these issues.

“DSS (Department of Social Services) estimates around 237,000 Disability Support Pension (DSP) recipients of working age may be eligible for employment assistance, and are not participating in employment, education or an employment assistance program,” the paper said.

“Your input will help inform policy development. Workshops and interviews will allow for exchange of information, experiences and insights to ensure a better understanding of the needs of around 20,000 supported employees and future NDIS participants seeking employment across Australia.”

People are able to provide written submissions for this discussion paper until 9 March 2018.

Luke Michael  |  Journalist  |  @luke_michael96

Luke Michael is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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