The National Council on Intellectual Disability (NCID) welcomes the opportunity to provide a brief response to the “Building on Success” discussion paper released by the Minister for Employment Participation.
The quality and effectiveness of employment services for people with intellectual disability is critical to improving the poor employment participation rates and poverty experienced by Australians with intellectual disability.
An increase in meaningful open employment participation demands an investment in the development of evidence based school to work and employment services.
The Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD) requires support programs to increase the inclusion of people with disability in the open labour market. The United Nations High Commissioner recently reported that;
. . efforts often focus on creating jobs or training opportunities in separate settings and fail to respect the principle of inclusion provided for in the Convention. It is imperative that States parties move away from sheltered employment schemes and promote equal access for persons with disabilities in the open labour market.
In light of the international convention and the principle of inclusion, the JSA and DES programs need to offer the opportunity for all people with intellectual disability to enjoy the dignity of meaningful open employment.
NCID is concerned that the open employment participation rate of people with intellectual disability is not increasing. An examination of 71,016 people with intellectual disability aged 15-64 who received national disability service support in 2010-11 reveals1;
- 10,589 (15%) are employed in the open labour market; 10,403 (15%) are unemployed;
- 30,395 (43%) do not participate in the labour force, including 27,000 in day programs;
- 15,000 (21%) are in supported employment (sheltered workshops) and earn a median weekly wage of $70.50. 2 Less than 1% progress to open employment services each year3;
- 4,658 (7%) are of unknown labour force status; and,
- 3% earn a wage as their main source of income (i.e. >$282 per week).
NCID is concerned that:
The number of all people with disability accessing open employment services annually has increased by 64,858 from 2003-4 to 2010-11, compared to just 860 over the same period for people with intellectual disability.4
3 in 10 people with intellectual disability entering Disability Employment Services (DES) get a job for 26 weeks, of which just 1 job is for more than 15 hours of work per week.5
In DMS there is a high rate of job loss after job placement. Whereas 47% of people with intellectual disability in DMS get a job, 24.3% get a job that lasts for 26 weeks.6
These employment participation and outcome figures indicate that there is still much to be done to change the life story of people with intellectual disability which is currently characterised by unemployment and poverty to that of employment and a wage.
The number of people with intellectual disability participating in the DMS program is relatively small. According to the DEEWR Data as at 31 January 2013, there were only 374 (0.5%) people with intellectual disability in the DMS caseload. There is a much larger program population of people with intellectual disability in the ESS program (8,340 or 11.3%) caseload.
The participation in DES of the working age adult population of people with intellectual disability is about 12%. Unfortunately, and contrary to the UN Convention, a great many adults with intellectual disability are guided to sheltered employment and non- word day programs which are characterised by dependence on the pension as their main source of income.
With respect to the Minister’s discussion paper, NCID wish to make the following two points.
1. The ESS eligibility must be addressed to maintain the integrity and effectiveness of the program
There needs to be a review of the Employment Assessment process used to determine JSA/DMS/ESS program eligibility and referral.
The purview of the ESS program is people with permanent disability who need regular and ongoing support to maintain employment. Despite this clear program focus, many people with disability who do not need regular and ongoing support have entered the ESS program. This is evident in the significant number of participants who are exited when in the ongoing support phase as independent workers shortly after achieving 26 weeks of employment.
Participants who need short term support and can work independently of ongoing support should be directed to either the DMS or JSA program. The Employment Assessment process must ensure that it does not incorrectly assign people with disabilities who need short term assistance to a program designed for people with disability who need ongoing support to keep a job.
A review of the Employment Assessment is critical to ensure that the ESS program maintains its integrity and that ESS providers maintain competency and effectiveness in achieving outcomes for people with disabilities who have ongoing support needs.
NCID wants to see the ESS program become a highly competent and effective program in which an increasing number of people with intellectual disability can receive evidence based support and achieve meaningful employment outcomes.
2. NCID endorses the submission by the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO)
NCID is a member of AFDO and supports the submission AFDO has prepared and provided to the Commonwealth.
This includes a number of key points including:
- The need to understand best practice if we are to improve employment participation rates for people with disability, including the publishing of outcomes for participant cohorts and for providers.
- A more transparent breakdown of people labelled with disability in the JSA caseload.
- The program eligibility and referral assessment needs to be reviewed and revised.
- Getting jobs, means meeting the mutual needs of jobseekers and employers. Employment providers need to be excellent at this skill.
- Transition from school to work is critical if we are to support a trajectory of youth with disability to employment participation and wages.
- The removal of Employment Benchmarks which inappropriately predicts the number of hours of work per week a jobseeker can achieve.
- Removing hours of work triggers for pension suspension or cancellation and permit disability support pensioner to maximise work and wages to the extent that the income test allows.
NCID would be pleased to discuss any points in this submission with the Commonwealth in the preparation of employment services beyond 2015.
1 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. 2012. Disability support services: services provided under the National Disability Agreement 2010–11. Canberra: AIHW
2 FHCSIA, Disability Services Census 2008
3 FHCSIA correspondence to NCID, 7th March 2011
4 Tuckerman, P., Cain, P., Long, B., Klarkowski, J. (2012). An exploration of trends in open employment in Australia since 1986. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation 37 (2012) 173–183
5 DEEWR. June 2012. Evaluation of the Moderate Intellectual Disability Loading 6 DES Outcome Rates report. Source: deewr.gov.au/lmip