This is the Interim Report of the National Inquiry into Employment and Disability. The Inquiry was announced on 4 March 2005 and is due to issue its final report by the end of 2005.
The purpose of this Interim Report is to:
(a) summarise the concerns and suggestions contained in the submissions made to the Inquiry to date;
(b) make Interim Recommendations on the basis of those submissions;
(c) propose a platform for action in the remaining months of the Inquiry.
As at 1 August 2005, the Inquiry has received 133 written submissions. It has also conducted five group consultations and published five Issues Papers for public comment.
The information gathered by the Inquiry suggests three issues of common concern to people with disability who are, or who are about to be, in the open workforce, and their actual or potential employers. Those three issues are:
1.Information - people with disability and employers are concerned about the absence of easily accessible and comprehensive information that can assist in their decision making processes and support their ongoing needs.
2.Cost - people with disability are concerned about the costs of participation, and employers are concerned about the costs of employing a person with disability.
3.Risk - people with disability and employers are concerned about the financial and personal impact of participating in the workplace, especially if a job does not work out.
The Interim Report therefore addresses the information needs, costs and risks facing employers (Chapter 2) and people with disability (Chapter 3) in a general sense. It then discusses the specific issues arising at the three stages of the employment process, namely:
1.Getting ready for the open workplace (Chapter 4)
2.Recruitment in the open workplace (Chapter 5)
3.Job retention in the open workplace (Chapter 6).
The following are the Interim Recommendations made by the Inquiry on the basis of the information provided in submissions and consultations. The Interim Recommendations do not intend to, and do not, cover the field. However, they do seek to address the primary concerns of those who have interacted with the Inquiry.
A fuller explanation of the twenty eight Interim Recommendations made by the Inquiry can be found in Chapter 7. As that chapter explains, the recommendations have been organised into the following five groups:
1.Assess and address information needs (Interim Recommendations 1-2)
2.Assess and address the costs facing employers and people with disability (Interim Recommendations 3-12)
3.Assess and address the risks facing employers and people with disability (Interim Recommendations 13-15)
4.Assess and address recruitment and support needs for employers and people with disability (Interim Recommendations 16-22)
5.Encourage public and private sector leadership in the employment of people with disability (Interim Recommendations 23-28)
In considering the Interim Recommendations below, the Inquiry emphasises the need to take a holistic approach to improving the participation and employment rates for people with disability. The employment process involves a great number of interdependent parties and processes; improvements to any one aspect is unlikely to result in much success in isolation.
The Inquiry encourages feedback on these recommendations and welcomes suggestions regarding additional measures that ought be taken.
Any comments should be provided to the Inquiry by emailing email@example.com by 30 September 2005.
Interim Recommendation 1: One-stop-information-shop
The Inquiry recommends that:
(a) the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (DEWR) conduct multi-sector consultations regarding the ideal content, scope, format and cost of a one-stop-information-shop; and
(b) DEWR facilitate the launch of a site-in-progress, accompanied by an individualised inquiry service in early 2006.
Interim Recommendation 2: Map government services
The Inquiry recommends ongoing Commonwealth, State and Territory interagency consultations with a view to developing up-to-date information regarding:
(a) the government programs available to employers and people with disability;
(b) the relationships between various government agencies and programs; and
(c) the outcomes of those programs.
The Inquiry recommends that this information be part of the one-stop-information-shop (see Interim Recommendation 1).
Interim Recommendation 3: Research into costs
The Inquiry recommends research into the economic cost of disability to:
(a) people with different disabilities participating in the open workplace;
(b) employment services assisting people with different disabilities; and
(c) large, medium and small employers of people with different disabilities.
Interim Recommendation 4: Streamline support and subsidies
The Inquiry recommends research into international approaches to encouraging the participation and employment of people with disability with a view to developing:
(a) a more streamlined and comprehensive program of support, assistance and incentives; and
(b) a whole-of-government approach.
Interim Recommendation 5: Case management model
The Inquiry recommends research into case management models for people with disability throughout the job readiness, recruitment and retention stages of the employment process, with a view to ensuring coordination of all services and supports across all levels of government.
Interim Recommendation 6: Cost of disability allowance
The Inquiry recommends reconsideration of the McClure Report's recommendation regarding simplification of welfare payments and the introduction of a cost of disability allowance, which takes into account the varying needs of people with different disabilities.
Interim Recommendation 7: Cost of participation allowance
The Inquiry recommends reconsideration of the McClure Report's recommendation regarding simplification of welfare payments and the introduction of a cost of participation allowance, which takes into account the varying needs of people with different disabilities.
Interim Recommendation 8: Health concessions
The Inquiry recommends further investigation into the need to extend eligibility for health care concessions for people with disability. The investigations should include a focus on:
(a) the cost of health care for people with different disabilities;
(b) the additional health costs that may be incurred because of participation in the open workplace; and
(c) the impact of health care costs on participation in the open workplace.
Interim Recommendation 9: Mobility Allowance
The Inquiry recommends reconsidering the amount of the Mobility Allowance to take into account the cost of transport to and from the workplace for people with different disabilities. This should include consideration of access to the Mobility Allowance on an "as needed" basis.
Interim Recommendation 10: Transport concessions
The Inquiry recommends further investigation into the need to extend eligibility for transport concessions for people with disability. The investigations should include a focus on:
(a) the cost of transport for people with different disabilities;
(b) the additional costs that may be incurred because of participation in the open workplace; and
(c) the impact of transport costs on participation in the open workplace.
Interim Recommendation 11: Workplace Modifications Scheme (WMS)
The Inquiry recommends that any revised WMS include the following features:
(a) eligibility for any employee with disability, whether or not the person is referred by a government-funded employment service or working on a full-time, part-time or casual basis;
(b) expansion of the types of modifications covered by the scheme;
(c) portability of WMS-funded equipment;
(d) increased amounts available for modifications;
(e) simplified application process; and
(f) promotion of the scheme.
Interim Recommendation 12: Employer tax incentives
The Inquiry recommends research into the structure and effectiveness of international models for tax incentives regarding employment of people with disability, with a view to determining the appropriateness of introducing such incentives in Australia.
Interim Recommendation 13: OHS, industrial relations and disability laws
The Inquiry recommends gathering clear and practical information about the financial impact of, and legal risks created by:
(a) occupational health and safety laws;
(b) disability discrimination laws;
(c) industrial relations laws; and
(d) the interaction between those laws
on employers who hire people with disability.
Interim Recommendation 14: Safety net options
The Inquiry recommends ongoing consultation regarding the proposed safety net provisions in the 2005 Budget in order to:
(a) determine the financial impact of participation for people with disability over an extended period of time; and
(b) explore other options that might reduce the risk of returning to the open workplace for people with disability.
Interim Recommendation 15: Work trials
The Inquiry recommends the development of robust government-supported work trial schemes that benefit employers and people with disability.
Interim Recommendation 16: Transition to work schemes
The Inquiry recommends consideration of the following measures to improve transition to work schemes:
(a) ongoing consultation and cooperation between Commonwealth, State and Territory governments to ensure more coordinated work placement support;
(b) improvements to the Disability New Apprentice Wage Support (DNAWS) scheme, including increased funding;
(c) provision of appropriate supports for other work experience, traineeship and apprenticeship schemes (eg New Apprenticeship Access Program (NAAP) and School-based New Apprenticeships Program (SNAP)); and
(d) public sector leadership in recruiting people with disability into work experience, traineeships and apprenticeships.
Interim Recommendation 17: Government-funded post-placement support
The Inquiry recommends a review of the post-placement support services offered by the Commonwealth government, including consideration of the following issues:
(a) funding levels for Disability Open Employment Services (DOES), Job Network (JN) and Commonwealth Rehabilitation Services (CRS) to provide on-the-job post-placement support;
(b) scope of services provided by DOES, JN and CRS;
(c) the appropriateness of time limitations on post-placement support; and
(d) access to the Jobs in Jeopardy program.
Interim Recommendation 18: Other ongoing support services
The Inquiry recommends investigation into the following matters regarding people who obtain a job outside government-funded employment services, or who acquire a disability while on the job:
(a) where employees with disability and their employers currently access ongoing support services;
(b) who pays for those services;
(c) whether those services are sufficient; and
(d) any recommendations for improvements.
Interim Recommendation 19: Flexible workplace
The Inquiry recommends the development of guidelines for creating a flexible workplace for employees with disability. It may be useful to coordinate such efforts with people designing family-friendly workplaces.
Interim Recommendation 20: Employment services
The Inquiry recommends ongoing consultation and the collection and examination of data over the next 24 months regarding the impact of changes to employment services on people with disability, employers and employment service providers.
Interim Recommendation 21: Mental illness
The Inquiry recommends further investigation and implementation of measures that address the recruitment and support needs of people with mental illness, noting the general application of such measures.
Interim Recommendation 22: Home and work based personal assistance
The Inquiry recommends better coordination, increased funding and streamlined access to work and home based personal assistance to enable people with disability in full-time, part-time or casual employment, apprenticeships, traineeships and work experience programs access to the help they need to meet their employment or study obligations.
Interim Recommendation 23: Public sector leadership
The Inquiry recommends a national review of public sector employment of people with disability, including consideration of the following:
(a) collection of comprehensive statistics;
(b) reasons for which employment levels have fallen; and
(c) strategies to increase public sector employment of people with disability.
Interim Recommendation 24: Government procurement policy
The Inquiry recommends further exploration into the feasibility and impact of mandatory accessible procurement policies for government agencies. To this end the Inquiry recommends research into international procurement policies and practices.
Interim Recommendation 25: Reporting scheme for employers
The Inquiry recommends consideration of a mandatory reporting scheme regarding employment of people with disability.
Interim Recommendation 26: Awards scheme for employers
The Inquiry recommends consideration of a widely promoted national scheme of awards for best practice in furthering employment opportunities for people with disability. Any awards scheme should require sharing of expertise with the business community.
Interim Recommendation 27: Recruitment agencies
The Inquiry recommends that employers ensure that they use recruitment agencies that have policies and practices designed to encourage hiring of people with disability.
Interim Recommendation 28: Inter-sector coalition
The Inquiry recommends the creation of an inter-sector leadership coalition, including representatives from employers, disability groups, employment service providers and government agencies.
The Inquiry will pursue the following eight areas in the remaining months of the Inquiry:
- Develop a one-stop-information-shop (Interim Recommendations 1 and 2)
- Improve the Workplace Modifications Scheme (Interim Recommendation 11)
- Develop a pilot project to identify any risks associated with occupational health and safety laws, disability discrimination laws and industrial relations laws (Interim Recommendation 13)
- Develop a model for work trials (Interim Recommendation 15)
- Develop a model for providing ongoing support to employers and employees with disability (Interim Recommendations 17 and 18)
- Develop a model for a flexible workplace (Interim Recommendation 19)
- Research international models for increasing participation and employment (Interim Recommendation 4)
- Research international models for government procurement policies (Interim Recommendation 24)
These topics were chosen on the basis that:
(a) the submissions indicate that they are a pressing concern; and
(b) there may be substantial progress within the timeframe left for the Inquiry.
The Inquiry will use three different methods to purse these areas:
- Consultation and input into Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (DEWR) processes (1-2 above)
- Convening working groups to develop models in specific aspects of the employment process (3-6 above)
- Research to be published in Issues Papers (7-8 above)
Making a submission to the Inquiry
The deadline for submissions is 30 September 2005.
Any feedback received by the Inquiry will be discussed in the final report, which is due to be published by the end of 2005.
All comments and submissions should ideally be sent by email to firstname.lastname@example.org