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National Inquiry into Employment and Disability: Issues Paper 4

National Inquiry into Employment and Disability

Issues Paper 4: Commonwealth
Government Assistance

What Commonwealth government
assistance is available to ensure equality of opportunity for people
with disabilities in employment?
 

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Last updated 4: March 2005.


There are several different questions that need to be addressed to foster equality of opportunity for people with disabilities in employment. These questions include:

  • how to increase participation by people with disabilities in the workforce
  • whether people with disabilities can get a job once they have decided to enter employment
  • whether there are equal opportunities for job retention, promotion and development once they find employment.

Government has a role to play in addressing each of these questions.

This Issues Paper identifies some of the major Commonwealth government services that aim to increase the participation and employment rates of people with disabilities.[1]

The paper is intended to be the first step towards addressing a problem identified by many parties in the preliminary stages of this Inquiry - that there is no single place where people with disabilities who wish to enter the workforce, and employers wishing to hire them, can go to find out what services are available to help them.

The paper also sets out some of the recommendations made by recent government reviews of various Commonwealth government initiatives.

The Inquiry is interested in your feedback on all of these issues.[2] Please use the questions set out below as a guide to your responses.

1. What government support is provided to people with disabilities to assist them in seeking, obtaining and retaining open employment?

  • Centrelink Disability Officers - specially trained staff who conduct assessments and provide assistance to people with a disability who are seeking employment
  • Job Network - provides assistance to people with disabilities who are seeking employment and have no ongoing support or rehabilitation needs. There are also specialist Job Network providers
  • CRS (Commonwealth Rehabilitation Scheme) Australia - provides employment assistance and vocational rehabilitation for people with a disability entering employment
  • Disability Open Employment Services - government-funded employment services that provide assistance to people with disabilities who have ongoing support needs to enter and maintain open employment.

Your feedback: Commonwealth government assistance to people with disabilities

(a) What are the strengths and weaknesses of the Commonwealth government
services listed above?

(b) What other Commonwealth government services are available
to assist people with disabilities who are seeking employment in employment?

(c) What additional supports and services do people with disabilities need
from the Commonwealth government to seek and obtain employment in employment?

2. What financial incentives are provided to employers by the Commonwealth
government in order to encourage employment of people with disabilities?

Your feedback: Commonwealth government assistance to employers

  • What
    are the strengths and weaknesses of the initiatives listed above?
  • What
    other Commonwealth government services are available to employers to encourage
    them to recruit, hire and retain people with disabilities in employment?
  • What additional supports and services do employers need from the Commonwealth
    government to encourage employers to hire and retain people with disabilities
    in employment?

3. What do the Commonwealth government’s own reviews say about the
services available to encourage equality of opportunity for open employment
of people with disabilities?

Over the past five years the following reviews have been conducted by various
government bodies.

  • Productivity Commission Report (2004) - The
    Commonwealth Productivity Commission found that the employment situation
    of people with disabilities had not improved greatly since the introduction
    of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA).[5] Amongst
    other things, the Productivity Commission recommended that the government 'review
    the effectiveness of the various schemes it uses to subsidise the costs to
    organisations of adjustments needed by people with disabilities'.[6] In
    January 2005, the Commonwealth government accepted this recommendation.[7]

  • Interim review of the DSP Pilot (2004) - Between December 2003 and June 2004, the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (DEWR) conducted a pilot project looking at ways to help people receiving the Disability Support Pension (DSP), who wish to enter the labour market to have better access to Job Network services. The interim results of the pilot suggest that an active effort to engage DSP recipients with the Job Network services often results in people using them more. The recommendations in the interim report include:
    1. Remove disincentives to participation for DSP recipients.
    2. Increase DSP
      recipients' awareness of available employment services and promote best
      practice in engaging with interested job seekers at the local level.
    3. Promote
      flexible servicing arrangements that currently exist within the Active
      Participation Model.
    4. Promote best practice, training and support mechanisms
      and tools for servicing DSP recipients.
    5. Streamline administrative systems
      and processes associated with servicing DSP recipients.
    6. Improve awareness
      in the labour market of the benefits of employing people with a disability

As at February 2005, the government was considering changes to the DSP aimed
at encouraging people with disabilities to enter the workforce and access job
assistance services.

  • Employer Incentives Scheme Report (2003) - the Department of Family and Community Services (FaCS) review of the Commonwealth government's Employer Incentives Strategy looked at what helped to motivate employers to increase their recruitment of people with disabilities.[8] The review listed ten areas for action as part of 'an
    effective, integrated suite of measures to encourage businesses to employ
    people with disabilities

    1. Undertake a collaborative policy development and
      implementation process involving stakeholders
    2. Build employer awareness
      of the contribution people with disabilities can and do make.
    3. Provide
      targeted information, advice and support to employers about employing
      people with disabilities.
    4. Identify mechanisms to recognise employers’ performance and encourage
      ongoing improvement in employers’ efforts to recruit people with
      disabilities.
    5. Improve job matching services to increase mainstream recruitment
      of people with disabilities.
    6. Develop a robust platform for work trials.
    7. Improve productivity based
      wage assessments.
    8. Monitor usage of wage subsidies for people with disabilities
      in case based funding.
    9. Improve the administration of the Workplace
      Modifications Scheme to make it easier to access.
    10. Encourage and support
      best practice among Disability Employment Service providers

  • Supported Wages System Report (2001) -
    the FaCS review of the Supported Wage System (SWS) found that while there
    was general support for this initiative, several improvements should
    be made.[9] Those areas include:
  1. Establishment of clear objectives, performance indicators and operational procedures
  2. Improved program administration and assessment processes
  3. Monitoring the impact of removing additional 'on the job support' funding for SWS placements
  4. Awareness raising of the existence of the SWS
  • McClure Report (2000) - the Commonwealth Reference Group on Welfare Reform made recommendations regarding alternative approaches to welfare, Some of the recommendations which specifically relate to people with disabilities include:
    • A8 Develop a better means of assessing the capacity of people with disabilities to participate in employment and other activities.
    • A9 Move towards a significant change in the framework of employment services to people with a disability, including a greater focus on outcomes, earlier intervention, better case monitoring and support for job seekers with a disability.
    • D13 Develop participation expectations and requirements for people with a disability in the light of the outcomes of the Disability Assessment and Contestability Trial.
    • D14 Review the capacity for work criterion (the 30- hour threshold) for people with disabilities ensuring that any such criterion is in line with contemporary patterns of labour market participation.
    • D16 Government and business to work in partnership to achieve attitudinal change and improve incentives and recognition for business to employ people at risk of long term joblessness. New initiatives could build on:
      • The Employer Incentives Strategy for people with disabilities, to increase
        awareness and take up of provisions that support the employment of people
        with disabilities.
  • Your feedback: government reviews

    (a) What are some of the
    strengths and weaknesses of the recommendations listed above?

    (b) Which of
    these recommendations are most important for improving equality of opportunity
    in employment for people with disabilities?

    (c)Which of these recommendations
    have been implemented and how?

    (d)Where recommendations have not been implemented,
    what needs to change so that they can be implemented?

    (e)What other changes should be made to government services to improve equality
    of opportunity to employment for people with disabilities?

    4. What do you think about the government services available to
    encourage equality of opportunity for open employment of people with disabilities?

    Your feedback: government services generally

    (a) What are some
    of the successes of current government services?

    (b) What are some of the
    failures of current government services?

    (c) What government services, other than those listed here, have you used?

    (d) What
    do you expect from the government in the terms of employment opportunities
    for people with disabilities?

    (e) Where do you go to find information about what government services are
    available?

    (f) What improvements would you suggest to improve access to government
    services?

    (g) Do you think that the government services available to people
    with disabilities, when looking for employment in employment, varies depending
    on whether the disability is physical, intellectual or psychiatric?

    (h) Do the government services available vary depending on the type of physical
    disability, the type of intellectual disability or the type of psychiatric
    disability?

    5. How do you make a submission?

    Further information about the Inquiry can be found at: www.humanrights.gov.au/disability_rights/employment_inquiry/index.htm

    Submissions are due by 15 April 2005.

    You can email your submission to: employmentinquiry@humanrights.gov.au.

    Submissions may also be sent in hard copy, audiotape or videotape,
    to:

    Employment Inquiry
    Disability Rights Unit
    Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission
    GPO Box 5218
    Sydney NSW 2001

    Questions can be directed to:

    Kate Temby
    Policy Officer
    Disability Rights Unit
    Phone: 02 9284 9767


    1. The primary sources for this paper
    are Commonwealth government websites. In particular: http://www.JobAble.gov.au;
    http://www.workplace.gov.au; http://www.centrelink.gov.au/internet/internet.nsf/services/disability_emp.htm#des;
    http://www.facs.gov.au/disability/cds/index.htm.
    2. Under the Commonwealth State Territory Disability Agreement (CSTDA), the Commonwealth government has responsibility for the planning, policy and management of employment assistance. While this paper focuses on Commonwealth government services, the Inquiry is also interested in information about how State government disability services may impact upon employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
    3. http://www.facs.gov.au/disability/cds/pubs/bep/support2.htm
    4. http://www.crsrehab.gov.au/76g.htm
    5. Productivity Commission, Review of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992, Report No 30, 30 April 2004, Vol 1, p82.
    6. Productivity Commission, Review of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992, Report No 30, 30 April 2004, Vol 1, ppLIV-LV; pp426-428.
    7. For the full response of the Commonwealth Attorney-General see http://www.ag.gov.au/PCDDA.
    8. Department of Family and Community Services, Improving Employment opportunities for People with a Disability, Report of the Review of the Employer Incentives Strategy, March 2003,
    http://www.facs.gov.au/internet/facsinternet.nsf/vIA/EIS/$file/EISReviewReport_0303.pdf
    9. For a copy of the report see http://www.facs.gov.au/disability/ood/sws/index.htm