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NDIS data drop reveals severe employment gaps


31 July 2019 at 3:30 pm
Maggie Coggan
Nearly half of all employed National Disability Insurance Scheme recipients over 25 are working for an Australian Disability Enterprise, while just 33 per cent are working in mainstream employment at full award wages, new data has revealed.  


Maggie Coggan | 31 July 2019 at 3:30 pm


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NDIS data drop reveals severe employment gaps
31 July 2019 at 3:30 pm

Nearly half of all employed National Disability Insurance Scheme recipients over 25 are working for an Australian Disability Enterprise, while just 33 per cent are working in mainstream employment at full award wages, new data has revealed.  

Australian Disability Enterprises (ADEs), which provide supported employment opportunities, have been criticised by some disability advocates for paying very low wages, and because less than 1 per cent of employees move into mainstream employment.

The latest data found 35 per cent of employed NDIS recipients aged 15 to 24 worked for ADEs, while 41 per cent worked in open employment at full award wages. 

Fourteen per cent of people worked in open employment at less than full award wages and for people 25 and above, that figure sat at 10 per cent.  

These findings, publicly released on Tuesday, are part of the first round of NDIS data collected from participants, their families, carers and providers.  

Romola Hollywood, People With Disability Australia director of policy and advocacy, said the newly-released data showed how well the NDIS was working, and which areas needed work. 

She pointed to employment as an area of particular concern, and said she hoped it would encourage the government to reevaluate policies around disability employment. 

We think that it’s really important the NDIA has its staffing cap removed… and improves staff training so that we can lift the quality of plans and ensure that the goal setting around moving into open employment is included in plans,” Hollywood told Pro Bono News. 

“The plans could be looking much more at what supports are needed in order to support people into employment.” 

The data did reveal positive improvements across various domains, including children’s development, community participation, personal relationships and choice and control for people with disability since the NDIS began. 

NDIS Minister Stuart Robert said he was committed to open information sharing and added there was more data to come. 

“As demonstrated with today’s release, the data will build a clear and accurate picture of what is working in the NDIS and what challenges we need to overcome to ensure long-term outcomes for participants,” Robert said. 

Hollywood encouraged the rest of the sector to make the most of the data for future policy planning that went beyond the NDIS. 

“It’s important to be looking at how the NDIS is functioning, but also looking at where there might be a need for a broader policy change calling for a national jobs plan,” she said. 

See the full release of data here. 


Maggie Coggan  |  Journalist  |  @MaggieCoggan

Maggie Coggan is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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5 comments

  • Avatar Sarah Green says:

    Synergy Group, an Australian Disability Enterprise located in Tweed Heads South, is proud to be paying a fair wage to all our wonderful Supported Employees who work here.. Currently there are positions available, contact us to enquire about joining our friendly team. http://www.synergygroup.org.au

  • Mary Walsh says:

    ADE’s fulfil an employment option for many. When you add in their social security entitlements they have a job, and get an income that exceeds many others. More importantly they have their dignity and esteem. Advocacy groups lobbying for ADE closures on the basis of “segregation” should be lobbying for all employers in main stream employment to report why so many leave their main stream jobs to go back to their ADEs. No one is tracking this – and that’s where the problem is. Unemployment and under-employment is a national problem for able-bodied people as well as those with disability

    • Avatar Monica says:

      Your organisation sounds wonderful! If only we lived closer 🙂 Good on you for offering employment to the most vulnerable in our society, and more importantly, lots of support whilst people settle into their roles.

    • Avatar Ewan Filmer says:

      There must be a better way than paying people $3 per hour Mary. Some ADEs are winning commercial contracts to supply goods and services on the backs of their underpaid workers.

      • Avatar Michael says:

        We are an ADE paying in accordance with the Supported Wage System so some employees are paid a full wage and some under – based on their capabilities, with some employees only able to complete 3 tasks per day that would take a mainstream employee 30 minutes to complete. If we moved all employees to a full wage, then we would be forced to terminate 75% of our workforce to keep our bottom line at break even – and we chase commercial contracts. When we make profits, we distribute shares back to our workers. You need to have the full picture before you demand full wages for everyone – full wages would mean an additional 64 people with disability out of work just in our organisation – I’m not sure that’s achieving the outcomes you intend to achieve. And maybe you should consider why workers are not transitioning into mainstream employment – perhaps they already work in a supportive environment where they feel like they fit in, where 80% of the workforce are like them in needs and ability and perhaps mainstream employment means they’ll perhaps be the only person at that organisation with a disability and they may feel isolated and different (and I can hear the objections, but you need to be thinking that it how a person feels is at the core of their self-confidence and self-worth).

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