Disability Employment Services (DES): choice and control

We know that choice is only choice when you understand your options.

To understand our options and therefore make informed decisions, we need access to accurate, timely and meaningful information. In the disability employment sector, governments collect the data, but wecanwork.com.au interprets it into manageable chunks.

For example, do you want to know which NSW-based Transition program finds the most jobs for young workers? Go here.  

Or do you want to know which DES is best at finding and keeping award-wage jobs for people with a particular disability in the Sydney area? Go here.

But this information is not widely distributed, so people with disability needing to take control over their working lives often rely on the marketing charm of their nearest service provider. In my experience, many disability employment service providers are not operating at the standard we need them to be. (See previous blogs on staff churn and burn and little support from DES to demonstrate this.) Therefore, unbiased and meaningful data is paramount.

Even a government-rated five-star service is not necessarily meeting the needs of job seekers with disability. All this rating means is that the provider definitely understands and meets the contract.

What’s more important for people with disability seeking employment and career opportunities is the number of hours worked, the remuneration and conditions, and the longevity of the work. Whether employment has apprenticeships and traineeships attached also matters greatly, as these forms of work show increased commitment from both employer and employee. Here’s just one publicly available example:

Job seekers on the Autistic Spectrum have a choice of 102 providers Australia wide. Since 2010, over 16,000 such individuals have signed up for employment support yet only 1284 jobs have been found that lasted for longer than a year. With less than less than 4% of the total sign ups (633), NOVA Employment is responsible for more than 10% of the long-term, well-paid outcomes (132).

During the seven years since 2010, fully 81 organisations have yet to assist more than 20 people to long-term employment success! But people with disability and their support people aren’t told this.

There needs to be easy access to data that properly informs – if job seeker is only half as likely to get a long-term job with provider A than provider B, you should be able to find that information in an easily understood format.

This would mean that Government reform could drive competition and drive informed choice, giving real opportunities for people with disability to exercise choice.

- Martin Wren